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Journal Articles International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment Year : 2021

Applying social life cycle assessment in the early stages of a project development — an example from the mining sector


Purpose. Mining of raw materials have both positive (e.g. creation of values and jobs along their supply chains and the supply chains they enter) and negative social impacts (e.g. affecting safe and healthy living conditions of the local community or through the risk of corruption). A new mining paradigm, small-scale "switch-on switch-off" (SOSO) mining, is based on the design of a flexible and modular mining plant (MMP), aims at exploiting quickly and safely European small high grade deposits of raw materials, including critical. The goal of this study is to assess the social implications of this new mining paradigm on the value chain of the MMP. Methods. A social hotspots assessment is conducted on pilot-scale operations of an MMP led in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the production of lead concentrate. The assessment is conducted using the performance reference point method. The background system is modeled through the PSILCA v2.0 database, while the foreground system is modeled using on-site data completed with PSILCA information. Results. The assessment reveals six main hotspots induced by both the foreground and the background systems and occurring mainly in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These hotspots can be divided into three groups: 1) local preoccupations within the community: "contribution to environmental load" and "public sector corruption", 2) measures that can be put in place by the MMP operator: "social responsibility along the supply chain" and "certified environmental management", and 3) the conditions prevailing in the country: "sanitation coverage" and "workers affected by natural disasters". Two sensitivity assessments are conducted in order to test the operating conditions of the MMP: switching from a diesel generator to a renewable source of energy supply and switching the country of operation to Greece, host of a similar deposit that could be potentially exploited thanks to the MMP. Switching the electricity supply system increases the overall risk due to the increase in potential impacts occurring on the renewable energy supply chain (e.g. battery manufacturing). When switching the country of operation to Greece, the overall potential impacts are predicted to decrease. Conclusions. This study performed on pilot-scale operations provides information on potential social and socioeconomic impacts and recommendations to limit these impacts in case of widespread use of the SOSO approach. In a broader perspective, having better knowledge of social implications linked to the mining and metals sector will help better understanding their implications in the various value chains they enter.
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Dates and versions

hal-03448557 , version 1 (02-12-2021)



Stéphanie Muller, Antoine Beylot, Olga Sydd, Keiran Doyle, Jérôme Bodin, et al.. Applying social life cycle assessment in the early stages of a project development — an example from the mining sector. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2021, ⟨10.1007/s11367-021-01995-x⟩. ⟨hal-03448557⟩


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