ECOLOGICAL COSTS OF OPEN PIT COAL MINING AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON ULTIMATE PIT DESIGN
Mining operations, especially surface coal mines, have great impacts on the local ecosystem and the environment. However, it has been a common practice in mine design that the economic evaluation considers only the operating and capital costs, while the costs incurred due to ecological damage are left out. Such practice underestimates the total cost of mining and ignores the difference in ecological impacts between different mine design alternatives. With growing interest in sustainable development, the mining industry is under increasing pressure to operate not only based on economic and engineering principles but also on principles of sustainability. Therefore, estimating ecological costs of mining and considering such costs in the mine design process is an important step towards reducing ecological impacts at the design stage. The objective of this paper is to quantify the ecological costs of open pit coal mining and to demonstrate the influence of such costs on the ultimate pit design. The ecological costs of mining are estimated based on the areas and types of land damaged by mining activities and the carbon emission from energy consumption. Four major components of ecological cost are identified, namely, lost value of direct eco-services, lost value of indirect eco-services, prevention and restoration costs, and the cost of carbon emission from energy consumption. Necessary equations are given for estimating these costs. An algorithm is described for ultimate pit optimization in coal deposits with near-horizontal coal seams. A case study is presented in which the ultimate pits with and without ecological costs are optimized and compared to show the influence of ecological costs on the pit design outcome.
Costs; Cost; Pits; Carbon; mining; Soils; Soil; Value; Algorithm;