Environmental risks and challenges of anthropogenic metals flows and cycles - Summary

UNEP (2013)

The global metals production shows tremendous impact on the world’s energy use, as primary metals production is responsible for 7 – 8 % of the total global energy use. Furthermore primary metal production causes severe local environmental impacts like groundwater pollution, mine wastes, air emissions (greenhouse gases, Sulphur dioxide etc.), land use, biodiversity loss etc. Wider implementation of Best Available Technologies (BAT) is needed reducing the environmental impacts of primary metal production. Improved End-of-Life recycling rates provide secondary metals for the market and thus mitigate the environmental impacts of overall metal production. But secondary production only can have a significant share in supply when global demand levels off. This may happen in the more distant future. For the next decades, primary production will still provide the major part of supply. Therefore a “greener” global primary metal sector remains a “must” for the future.