Prospective dynamic resource assessment of circular economy solutions: the case of batteries in the mining sector

Conference Dates

June 5 – 10, 2022


The circular economy (CE) is seen as a key concept for reducing environmental pressures and bringing forth more sustainable production and consumption practices (Geissdoerfer et al., 2017). To plan for and enable CE solutions, such as reuse and recycling strategies, it is critical to have knowledge of the future demand of products and materials, and how this matches the future supply of secondary sources. The timing, quantity, and geographical spread of resource flows determine the feasibility of CE solutions. To ensure that resource use is optimized it is important to have knowledge of these dynamics over time. Here, we use dynamic stock and flow (DSF) modelling to analyze the potentials of circular product and material flows at the company level, using lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) in the underground mining (UGM) sector as a case study. The case study is a company that sells battery driven UGM equipment and provides LiBs as a service. The LiBs are modular, can be set up in different configurations, and be used in several different machine types with varying energy capacity requirements. As a result, the LiBs can be given additional lifecycles (second, third, or fourth lives) in the different machines, before being recycled at end of life. The study is the first, to the authors knowledge, to use DSF modelling to analyze the resource-related effects of implementing a CE solution at the company level. The results are specific to the sector but also point to more generalizable insights about opportunities and limitations of the CE from a resource perspective.

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