(350d) An Emergy-Based Sustainability Evaluation and Analysis of Water Resource Usage By the Mining Industry in Colombia

Cano, N. A., Universidad Nacional de colombia
Velasquez Arredondo, H. I., Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Bustamente, O., Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Due to the diversity of weather and soil conditions, Colombia has an abundance of natural resources and a wide range of mining products. These include coal, gold, platinum, nickel, emerald, lime, among others, that are extracted in a smaller scale. In addition, during the last decade, there has been a significant growth in both the volume and value of production of primary goods, particularly in the mining and hydrocarbons that affect positively and significantly the country gross domestic product (GDP).
However, it is unlikely to avoid conflicting objectives, political controversies, economic, environmental, and social challenges around the exploitation of these nonrenewable resources. Moreover, sometimes current mining practices lead to irreversible environmental impacts such as destruction of ecosystems, water scarcity in protected lands, soil, water, and air pollution.
Therefore, there is the need of establishing an evaluation methodology that allows assessing how sustainable is the current management and process mining in Colombia.

Since emergy analysis is a methodological tool for assessing the sustainability of a system or process for environmental decision-making, it will be applied to assess the sustainability of the current mining system in Colombia. This evaluation approach will consider by-products, cost-effectivity, energy efficiency, and environmental impacts through the calculation of emergy-based sustainability indicators. This will allow identifying gaps for improvements and the development of tools to regulate this productive sector in a more sustainable way.