Nov 19, 2021
International Journal of Coal Science & Technology

The life cycle phase of fossil fuel extraction is mainly considered in the life cycle assessment (LCA) when evaluating the energy production processes. It is then only one of many unit processes, which contribute to the blurring of mining relevant results. There are few items in the literature focusing exclusively on the lignite mining phase and analysing the specific mining conditions and associated environmental impacts. The article focuses on the LCA of lignite mining processes on the basis of data coming from a Polish mine. The technology for opencast lignite mining is noted for its high production efficiency, high level of recovery and lower risk as regards the safety of workers when compared with underground mining systems. However, the need to remove large amounts of overburden to uncover the deposit contributes to a much greater degradation of the landscape. Analysing the results obtained, several key (hot spot) elements of the lignite mining operations were distinguished for modelling the environmental impact, id est: calorific value, the amount of electricity consumption, the manner in which waste and overburden are managed. As a result there is a high sensitivity of the final indicator to changes in these impacts.

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