World primary copper production is expected to increase due to growing demand. Reflecting the geographical divergence of copper deposits and demanding industries, copper is produced by various production paths, differing in regional and technological aspects and related environmental pressures. For the mitigation of environmental pressures related to global material flows and a more sustainable resource management, policy makers, producers and buyers require information on regional resource efficiencies and effects of the key processes within the global production chain. This study quantifies material flows of refined copper production and environmental pressures along the pyro‐ and hydrometallurgical paths for Chile and Germany. Inventories for involved unit processes are distinguished by region and most commonly applied technologies, including electric power supply. Different production paths are compared by environmental pressure indicators (primary energy requirements, total material requirements, water consumption, GHG emissions, solid waste disposal, sulphur dioxide and arsenic emissions). Alternative options for improvement of technologies and supply patterns in Chile and Germany are compared.
Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie