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Avoided energy cost of producing minerals: The case of iron ore
Reuter, M. A.; Palacios, J.-L.; Fernandes, I.; Abadias, A.; Valero, A.; Valero, A.;
There is growing concern about the decline of the ore grade in mines and the increased energy usage for processing and refining metals. In the limit, where no concentrated deposits exist, minerals must be obtained from bare rock. A method for quantitatively assessing the “free bonus” granted by nature in providing concentrated minerals in mines and thus assessing the quality of the different resources is estimating how much energy is needed to concentrate the minerals, as they are already in mines, from bare rock. This bonus granted by nature reduces the costs of human mining and metallurgical processes, as well as the mining effort required of future generations. In this study, the concentration of high-iron-content minerals in common rocks was investigated via a computational model developed using the HSC software. As expected, the range of results for the specific energy for the concentration of iron from common rocks was considerably higher than the energy required by modern processes. This reveals the need to value current iron deposits and the challenge of developing sustainable methods of metal production to satisfy the needs of the present and future generations.
Keywords: Energy consumption, Exergy replacement cost, Iron, Metallurgy, Mining, Thanatia

Publ.-Id: 29030 - Permalink