The Application of Material Flow Analysis for the Evaluation of the Recovery Potential of Secondary Metals in Australia

The rate of metal use has risen rapidly in recent decades resulting in increasing amounts of landfilled mining wastes and produced metals being stockpiled as in-use products. These two reservoirs will become important for their metal content recovery over the next decades as a result of population growth, increasing per capita resource use, and anticipated metal price increases due to supply limitations. This paper discusses the potential and availability of secondary metals for recovery in Australia, illustrated by research results and case-study examples for copper and zinc. Barriers and enabling mechanisms for enhanced utilisation of secondary (non-virgin) resources are evaluated against the mining of virgin resources with the aim to present decision support guidelines to industry and government for resource policies and practices, and technology innovations.

Presented at the 4th Australian LCA Conference; Sydney.