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Alicia Valero, Adriana Dominguez, and Antonio Valero (2015)

Exergy cost allocation of by-products in the mining and metallurgical industry

Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 102:128–142.

Abstract In the mining and metallurgical industry, with each ore, products, by-products and wastes appear. Allocations among products when one or more by-products come about in a mining or metallurgical process are based either on tonnage or on commercial prices. Both ways of allocating costs entails disadvantages that are analysed in this paper. Besides a rigorous way to allocate costs among non-fuel minerals through the exergy replacement costs is proposed. Particularly, 33 different mineral deposit models where 12 coupled products are obtained have been analysed. Results show that the average difference between the economic approach and the exergy approach range from 0% to 30%. The highest difference is presented in metals such as copper, nickel and cobalt. Therefore, as a case study, exergy cost allocation was applied to copper and nickel production with its respective by-product (cobalt). The results suggest that if exergy replacement cost is applied, cost allocation values are similar to those obtained via the price indicator. This supports the idea that the exergy replacement cost is very close to the value society places on minerals. That said, contrarily to prices, exergy replacement cost does not fluctuate with external factors linked to market mechanisms but remains constant.

Mining, Metallurgy, LCA, Mineral resources, Cost allocation, Exergy replacement cost

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Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad
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Thermodynamics for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources

Cover Thermodynamics

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Is Gaia becoming Thanatia, a resource exhausted planet? For how long can our high-tech society be sustained in the light of declining mineral ore grades, heavy dependence on un-recycled critical metals and accelerated material dispersion? These are all root causes of future disruptions that need to be addressed today.