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Definition of the mineral extraction LCA systems

The sphere of influence of study was divided in two parts, the system and its surroundings. The region in which the mining activities take place to be considered as the system, which will be enclosed by the system boundaries. The region surrounding these boundaries is the system environment.

In order to describe the mining system sufficiently and include enough detail to enable quantitative assessment of its performance during the modelling stage, the overall system was divided into the four main subsystems that are linked to each other by flows in the LCA system. These are be referred to as phases defined as follows:
- Production
- Processing
- Waste disposal
- Rehabilitation and maintenance

The system was then broken up to components such that each subsystem corresponded to a small convenient size function, suitable for the technical, economic and mathematical purposes and needs and for ease of use. This small convenient function will be referred to as functional unit. The structural levels that link the mining phases indicated above with the functional units are: Phase - Process - Functional Unit.

The flows of mass, energy and costs allocated to the functional unit and the relationships between inputs and outputs are identified and described as follows:
Inputs: Energy, Materials (main processes, secondary processes, Services), Costs
Outputs: Product, Discharges (emissions to air, effluents to surface water/groundwater, solid waste, energy, other)

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Reported by

Imperial College London
Department of Environmental Science and Technology, South Kensington Campus
SW7 2AZ London
United Kingdom
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