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PW06 Life-Cycle Assessment
Exhibit Hall
8:00 AM - Wednesday

(PW081) Comparative life cycle assessment of chilean copper and cellulose production: impacts on global warming and natural resources.

Zaror, C.1, Gonzalez, P.1, Camaño, A.2, Vesovic, V.3, 1 University of Concepción, Concepcion, Chile2 Minera Escondida. BHP-Billiton, Santiago, Chile3 Imperial College, London, United Kingdom

ABSTRACT- Copper and cellulose production are the most important industrial activities in Chile, with annual productions reaching 7 million tons and 4 million tons, respectively. Both sectors present different environmental impacts and there are concerns about long term sustainability. In this context, LCA appears as a powerful tool for strategic management. However, key methodological issues may affect validity of results, mainly in relation to appropriate consideration of local environmental conditions and data reliability. This paper presents a comparative life cycle assessment of copper and cellulose production in Chile, with emphasis on water and energy resources, and global warming effects. Data where obtained form local production facilities. In the case of copper production, results show that environmental impacts along the life cycle are significantly affected by the nature of raw material (ie. copper oxide or copper sulphide), and the source of primary energy for electricity production. Copper mining and processing is energy intensive and the specific evolution of greenhouse and acid gases vary within 3-7 ton CO2 and 0.3-1.0 ton SO2 equivalent, respectively. Moreover, most copper processing facilities are located within the Atacama Region, where desertic conditions prevail and water resources are scarce featuring characteristic replenishing times around 20,000 years. Specific water consumption in the range 20-40 m3/ton where found. On the other hand, forestry production is mainly located in the Central-Southern part of the country, with rainfall around 1.500 mm water per year. Cellulose production is based on pine and eucalyptus plantations. Environmental loads along the life cycle show that energy consumption is mainly met by biomass fuel and the CO2 balance favours fixation by photosynthesis, with a of CO2 uptake within 1-5 ton/ton cellulose, depending on raw materials and production process. The implications of these findings for Chilean contribution to global warming and local environmental impacts on water and energy sources are discussed in the light of Chilean environmental planning and decision-making.

Key words: cellulos production, Life cycle inventory, refined copper production, impact on water resources


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