Industrial Minerals Sector Contribution to Circular Economy
The concept of Circular Economy although not new, within a policy context is aiming to transform the economy from a linear into a circular model, by promoting and putting into practice the recycling, recovery and the re-use of end applications. The mining sector has embraced the concept of circular economy in its own processes, minimising the negative impacts on the environment, the society and maximizing its favourable impact on the overall economy. New innovative projects have been developed to reach more sustainable business models, which go from the extraction and processing of the minerals, through the delivery of products to the value chains, to the recovering of the land after the use.
Following the commitments undertaken in the sector roadmap “Imagine the Future with Industrial Minerals“, this report presents projects from industrial minerals companies contributing to the circular economy, throughout the different life cycle stages of the minerals: extraction, manufacturing, transport, use phase and end of life. Myths and facts regarding the industries are exposed in the light of case studies coming from different countries, companies and related to different minerals, with both qualitative and quantitative data.
The chapters of the report correspond to different life phases of minerals, throughout the value chain: optimisation of the use of resources at quarry level; improvement of processing to minimize environmental implications and mitigate carbon footprint; minimization of transport and facilitation of usage at customer’s premises.
Quarries are managed to minimize footprint and optimize the use of natural resources, operations are constantly improved to reduce carbon emissions and reduce wastes, transport is permanently challenged to implement the best techniques.
The sustainable use of the land is a concept now embedded in the industry business model. The post-mining restoration is part of the permitting process and many companies adapt their plans to the need of the specific site and the local communities. As the last stage of the life cycle, the report focuses on the mineral optimization during the use phase along the entire value chain and at their end of life. Projects show that the mining industry brings added value to the circular economy along the value chain improving for instance the performances of their applications and increasing their recyclability.
Case studies are very diverse, in terms of geographical coverage and methods to achieve the same objective, therefore offering a large catalogue of good practices.
The industrial mineral sector is strongly committed to contributing to economic growth and societal wealth in the EU through sustainable extraction, production, management and use of the invaluable resources, they produce or use to contribute to the overall policy objectives of the Circular Economy.