Sustainability as a challenge to face and a goal to reach: interdisciplinary approach to support raw materials and energy supply


Sustainability as a challenge to face and a goal to reach: interdisciplinary approach to support raw materials and energy supply
Convener: Giovanna Antonella Dino | Co-conveners: George Barakos, Alessandro Cavallo, Vittorio Di Federico, Sabina Dolenec, David C. Finger, Elena Pummer
vPICO presentations
| Thu, 29 Apr, 13:30–15:00 (CEST)
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vPICO presentations: Thu, 29 Apr

Chairpersons: Giovanna Antonella Dino, Elena Pummer, George Barakos
Sub-Session Renewable Energy
Eduard Doujak, Marko Hočevar, Elena Pummer, Vittorio Di Federico, and David Finger

The EU energy policy has the ambitious objective to become the first carbon-neutral continent in the world. In order to achieve this objective hydropower will have to play an essential role as energy source and energy storage in pump storage facilities. Hydropower is a clean, low carbon, and cost-efficient energy source that can be exploited sustainably if an adequate management system is implemented. Nevertheless, in the past, hydropower operations have led to conflicting interests over water usage, impacts on aquatic flora and fauna, and significant socio-economic implications. In order to avoid and mitigate possible negative consequences of hydropower plants the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP, provides a helpful tool to minimize related impacts. In this presentation we will delineate how the 26 topics of the HSAP could be complemented in order to provide a fully digitalized sustainability framework for hydropower. In particular, we will outline innovative solutions for the most challenging topics of sustainable hydropower plants, including i) energy supply securing with a high share of renewable energies ii) climate change impacts on water resources and hydropower production, ii) altered flow and changed turbidity dynamics in rivers, iii) long-term downstream effects on river beds and groundwater exchange, iv) degradation of river ecology, v) socio-economic impacts on local stakeholders, vi) adequate assessment of the water-energy-food nexus, vii) near real time digitalisation framework to streamline information. Through the digitalization of the HSAP a standardized and transparent flow of information will be guaranteed. Within the presented digitalized framework, all data will be processed to standardize, harmonize and synthesize results and information from all working tasks into a data lake. We may apply this framework to demonstration hydropower plants of different types to improve their sustainability, efficiency and management.

How to cite: Doujak, E., Hočevar, M., Pummer, E., Di Federico, V., and Finger, D.: A concept for sustainable and digitalized hydropower going beyond the sustainable hydropower sustainability tool, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6629,, 2021.

Korina Konstantina Drakaki, Georgia-Konstantina Sakki, Ioannis Tsoukalas, Panagiotis Kossieris, and Andreas Efstratiadis

The highly-competitive electricity market over EU and the challenges induced by the so-called “Target Model”, introduce significant uncertainties to day-ahead trades involving renewable energy, since most of these sources are driven by non-controllable weather processes (wind, solar, hydro). Here, we explore the case of small hydropower plants that have negligible storage capacity, and thus their production is just a nonlinear transformation of inflows. We discuss different forecasting approaches, which take advantage of  alternative sources of information, depending on data availability. Among others, we investigate whether is it preferable to employ day-ahead predictions based on past energy production data per se, or use these data in order to retrieve past inflows, which allows for introducing hydrological knowledge within predictions. Overall objective is to move beyond the standard, yet risky, point forecasting methods, providing a single expected value of hydropower production, thus quantifying the overall uncertainty of each forecasting method. Power forecasts are evaluated in terms of economic efficiency, accounting for the impacts of over- and under-estimations in the real-world electricity market.

How to cite: Drakaki, K. K., Sakki, G.-K., Tsoukalas, I., Kossieris, P., and Efstratiadis, A.: Setting the problem of energy production forecasting for small hydropower plants in the Target Model era, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3168,, 2021.

Erica Matta, Mariano Bresciani, Claudia Giardino, Marina Amadori, Thomas Heege, Karin Schenk, Kim Knauer, Alena Bartosovar, Ilias Pechlivanidis, Marcelo Leite Ribeiro, Marina Launay, José Pedro Matos, Declan Kelleher, Nils Rüther, and Kordula Valerie Anne Schwarzwälder

The EC HYPOS (HYdro-POwer-Suite) project ( has the main goal of assessing the environmental impact of existing and future hydropower systems. The project will provide a suite of data analysis applications which integrates Earth Observation (EO) technologies and hydrological modelling. These include an online Decision Support Tool (DST) for investment planning and monitoring, as well as a subscription portal combining satellite data over time, current measurements and detailed estimates for present and near future assessments. A dedicated analysis on the “blue footprint” (i.e. the amount of water used to produce a service) of reservoirs is included for addressing sustainable monitoring solutions. Such analysis comprises the evaluation of the climate change effects on reservoirs management and hydropower production. For instance, extreme weather events like short-term heavy precipitations are connected with flooding and transport of large amounts of sediments in dammed reservoirs, with critical consequences for their management. Similarly, global warming can heat the surface of water bodies and induce higher evaporation rates, thus decreasing the amount of water available for energy production.  

In this study we present the first products from HYPOS project. These products are representative of what can be generated within the DST using elaboration techniques of EO data. Gridded products of water quality parameters (e.g. water turbidity, Chlorophyll-a concentration, suspended sediments concentration) are generated for the test sites of the project, which are small dammed reservoirs located in Switzerland, France, Albania and Georgia. These products are obtained using the Modular Inversion and Processing System (MIP), a sensor independent image processing chain based on radiative transfer models, which works in a multi-layer system, solving the light transfer in the atmosphere, at the water surface and inside the waterbody.

For the assessment of the “blue footprint” of a reservoir, the water loss due to evaporation is computed by applying a consolidated mass transfer evaporation method to EO data. The resulting evaporation rates are first compared with the outputs of semi-automatic evapotranspiration EO-based models (e.g. SEBAL), and then with the estimates ​​obtained from two different numerical models: a hydrological model (E-Hype) and a 3D hydrodynamic model (Delft3D). The key parameters influencing water evaporation rates, their behavior and the issues related to each approach are analyzed. The first comparison results are made for lake Garda, where a complete set of data is available for the production of evaporation maps.

How to cite: Matta, E., Bresciani, M., Giardino, C., Amadori, M., Heege, T., Schenk, K., Knauer, K., Bartosovar, A., Pechlivanidis, I., Ribeiro, M. L., Launay, M., Matos, J. P., Kelleher, D., Rüther, N., and Schwarzwälder, K. V. A.: The HYPOS project as a support to the hydroelectric sector, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10919,, 2021.

Thanh Duc Dang, Jia Yi Ng, and Stefano Galelli

Southeast Asia’s electricity supply largely depends on the hydropower resources of the Mekong, Chao Phraya, Irrawaddy, and Salween River Basins. Uncertain precipitation patterns, rising temperature, and other climate-driven changes are exposing these resources to unprecedented risks, prompting decision makers to re-evaluate existing reservoir management strategies through climate change risk assessments. These assessments are important in shaping the operators’ response to hydro-climatic variability and are necessary to ensure energy security in the region. In this study, we developed high-resolution, semi-distributed hydrological models to examine the potential changes of hydropower availability under projected future climate scenarios in the four largest river basins in South East Asia. Specifically, we relied on a novel variant of the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model that integrates reservoir operations into the routing scheme, warranting a more accurate representation of cascade reservoir systems. Climate change impacts were derived from the outputs of five Global Circulation Models (GCMs) forced by two Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs 2.6 and 8.5) emission scenarios in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6). We find that hydropower generation would be altered significantly in all scenarios in terms of temporal variability and magnitude due to the changes in duration and magnitude of the summer monsoon. Our findings further stress the importance of exploring how the impact of climate change on hydropower availability propagates through water-energy systems and call for adaptive reservoir operation strategies.

How to cite: Dang, T. D., Ng, J. Y., and Galelli, S.: Assessing the impact of climate change on Southeast Asia’s hydropower availability, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6929,, 2021.

Epari Ritesh Patro and Carlo De Michele

Reservoir sedimentation has a prominent impact on the hydropower performance in the future and is a growing concern for hydropower stakeholders. Sedimentation caused by soil erosion is influenced by various parameters. Reservoir sedimentation is one of the most challenging problems that affect hydroelectric production since it overall causes a reduction of the reservoir capacity that overcomes the annual increase in storage volume and implies a dangerous net loss of energy. The first part of this study examined various Italian reservoirs (50 dams) to determine sedimentation rates and storage capacity loss based on available bathymetric surveys. All the reservoirs studied here have reached an average age of 74 years as of 2019, with the highest loss of capacity observed at 90% and the highest annual sediment yield of 2471 m3/km2/year. Out of all the reservoirs studied, 25% of them already have reached their half-life as of 2019. The second part of this study extended the work to the specific case study of the Ceppo Morelli hydropower plant. The study was carried out to analyse the water-sediment interaction, future sediment load and prioritizing of critical soil erosion areas using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). The distinguishing feature of this work lies in the possibility to exploit remote sensing data (i.e. actual/potential evapotranspiration) to successfully calibrate hydrological models in scarce data regions. Simulation results indicated that the discharge and sediment load entering Ceppo Morelli reservoir will decline and the rate of reduction of latter is higher than that of former for all the future climate scenarios implemented. This analysis will provide a starting point for management and prioritization of adaptation and remediation policies for addressing the issue of reservoir sedimentation. These results are part of the RELAID project funded through PRIN-Italy. The aim of this project is to integrate updated knowledge on hydrologic, hydraulics, and sedimentation processes to address the water and flood risk management of impounded Italian rivers through a holistic paradigm.

Keywords: reservoir sedimentation; hydropower; hydrological modeling; RELAID; Italy

How to cite: Patro, E. R. and Michele, C. D.: Assessment of Reservoir Storage Capacity Loss and Investigating the Effects of Climate Variability on Reservoir Sedimentation in Italy, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2651,, 2021.

Jo Halvard Halleraker, Mahmoud S. R. Kenawi, Jan Henning L’Abée - Lund, Anders G. Finstad, and Knut Alfredsen

Riverine biodiversity is threatened with severe degradation from multiple pressures worldwide. One of the key pressures in European rivers are hydromorphological alterations. Rehabilitation of river habitats is accordingly high on the political agenda at the start of UN decade of ecological restoration (2021-2030).

Water storage for hydropower production (HP) has severe impacts on aquatic ecology in Norway, with more than 3000 water bodies designated as heavily modified due to hydropower. Norway is the largest hydropower producer in Europe with a huge amount of high head storage schemes. Ca 86 TWh of this is storage hydropower, which constitutes more than 50% of the total in Europe. This makes Norway a potentially significant supplier of hydropeaking services. Flexible hydropower operations are crucial for EUs Green Deal in balancing electricity from renewable intermittent power generation such as wind and solar. 

Many Norwegian HP licenses were issued before modern environmental requirements evolved. Few are re-licensed with emerging strategies to mitigate hydropeaking. Still, there seems to be a common understanding of relevant mitigation strategies emerging between many large hydropower producers. For example, flow ramping from hydropower tailrace water with direct outlet into fjords or other lake reservoirs may be less environmentally harmful than outlet into riverine habitat.In this study, we have assessed the Norwegian hydropower portfolio of more than 1600 HP facilities constructing a national database focusing on the knowledge base for assessing potential downstream hydropower ecological impacts. The ecological severity of such flow ramping and the restoration/mitigation potential, may depend on;


About 51 % of the HPs (ca 80TWh) have tailrace into shorter rivers (<1 km) or directly into fjords or lake/reservoirs. Many of the largest HPs are in this category (e.g 50 HP> 500 MW). Close to 800 HP might have downstream impacts on rivers (> 0.5 km; about 49 % of all HP, in total of ca 56 TWh). Probably > 3 000 km of regulated rivers in Norway therefor might need more ecosystem-based mode of HP operation. Flow ramping analysis:  Ecosystem-based HP operational rules are established in a selection of sustainably managed Norwegian rivers, still with significant baseload production (0.35-0.76 - TWh annual prod). However, eco-friendly mode of operation seems to be rare as our analysis indicate that flow ramping with potential ecological degradation seems widespread in many rivers. Surprisingly, even in many with operational ramping restriction as required mitigation.Our database may be further improved and updated (with e.g. more flow ramping data and biological indicators) and serve as a basis for a national hydropeaking strategy, and hence make more of the Norwegian hydropower portfolio in line with the EUs sustainability taxonomy.

How to cite: Halleraker, J. H., Kenawi, M. S. R., L’Abée - Lund, J. H., G. Finstad, A., and Alfredsen, K.: Emerging mitigation measures and strategies are needed for riverine ecology to ensure sustainable hydropeaking production in Norway, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16429,, 2021.

Sanita Dhaubanjar, Arthur F. Lutz, David Gernaat, Santosh Nepal, Saurav Pradhananga, Sonu Khanal, Arun Bhakta Shrestha, and Walter Immerzeel

Considering the lack of a comprehensive assessement of hydropower potential in the Upper Indus basin, we developed and implemented a systematic framework to explore four different classes of hydropower potential. Our framework uses high-resolution discharge generated by a coupled cryosphere-hydrology model as the bio-physical boundary conditions to estimate theoretical potential. Thereafter, diverse context-specific constraints are implemented stepwise to estimate the technical, economic and sustainable hydropower potential. The successive classes of hydropower potential integrate considerations for various water demands under the water-energy-food nexus, multiple geo-hazard risks, climate change, environmental protection, and socio-economic preferences. We demonstrate that the nearly two thousand Terawatt-hour of theoretical potential available annualy in the upper Indus can be misleading because a majority of this is technically and economically not viable. Even smaller potential remains if we account for the various sustainability constraints that vary spatially. Our concept of the sustainable hydropower potential enables decision makers to look beyond the energy sector when selecting hydropower projects for development to achieveenergy security under the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7).The generated portfolio of sustainable hydropower projects is superior to the current portfolio based on outdated studies because our method looks beyond theoretical possibilities and excludes projects that conflict with management objectives under other SDGs. The spatial maps with potential and the cost curves for hydropower production provide a science-based knowledge base for hydropower development in the Indus basin. Our method could similarly be adapted to inform hydropower development in other basins across the globe.

How to cite: Dhaubanjar, S., F. Lutz, A., Gernaat, D., Nepal, S., Pradhananga, S., Khanal, S., Bhakta Shrestha, A., and Immerzeel, W.: Quanitification of sustainable hydropower potential in the Upper Indus basin, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14452,, 2021.

Suyog Chaudhari, Erik Brown, Raul Quispe-Abad, Emilio Moran, Norbert Mueller, and Yadu Pokhrel

Given the ongoing and planned hydropower development projects in the Amazon River basin, appalling losses in biodiversity, river ecology and river connectivity are inevitable. These hydropower projects are proposed to be built in exceptionally endemic sites, setting records in environmental losses by impeding fish movement, altering flood pulse, causing large-scale deforestation, and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. With the burgeoning energy demand combined with the aforementioned negative impacts of conventional hydropower technology, there is an imminent need to re-think the design of hydropower to avoid the potentially catastrophic consequences of large dams. It is certain that the Amazon will undergo some major hydrological changes in the near future because of the compounded effects of climate change and proposed dams, if built with the conventional hydropower technology. In this study, we present a transformative hydropower outlook that integrates low-head hydropower technology (e.g., in-stream turbines) and multiple environmental aspects, such as river ecology and protected areas. We employ a high resolution (~2km) continental scale hydrological model called LEAF-Hydro-Flood (LHF) to assess the in-stream hydropower potential in the Amazon River basin. We particularly focus on quantifying the potential and feasibility of employing instream turbines in the Amazon instead of building large dams. We show that a significant portion of the total energy planned to be generated from conventional hydropower in the Brazilian Amazon could be harnessed using in-stream turbines that utilize kinetic energy of water without requiring storage. Further, we also find that implementing in-stream turbines as an alternative to large storage-based dams could prove economically feasible, since most of the environmental and social costs associated with dams are eliminated. Our results open multiple pathways to achieve sustainable hydropower development in the Amazon to meet the ever-increasing energy demands while minimizing hydrological, social, and ecological impacts. It also provides important insight for sustainable hydropower development in other global regions. The results presented are based on a manuscript under revision for Nature Sustainability.

How to cite: Chaudhari, S., Brown, E., Quispe-Abad, R., Moran, E., Mueller, N., and Pokhrel, Y.: In-stream turbines for sustainable hydropower development in the Amazon river basin, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3781,, 2021.

Subhojit Kadia, Binit Kumar, Elena Pummer, Nils Ruther, and Zulfequar Ahmad

Many dams around the world are ageing and require upgradation in terms of spillway capacity and other safety aspects. In recent times, challenges faced due to global warming, climate change and cloudburst events have grown not just in numbers but also in extremity. Consequently, several dams and diversion structures are being modified to cope up with the floods resulting from such events. Piano key weir (PKW) has effectively been used in many dam upgradation projects, especially in France and Vietnam, to enhance the discharge capacity of the existing ogee-crested weirs or labyrinth weirs. It has also been used in a diversion scheme in India (Sawra Kuddu). The flow field around a PKW is spatially varied, complex and three-dimensional in nature. The previous researches on PKWs were predominantly focused on the effect of different parameters on its discharging capacity and limited studies are available on the flow field, sediment movement and scouring at PKWs. Considering these gaps, this study was initiated to understand the flow pattern near PKW and its effect on the sediment transport over PKW. Presented here is the experimental work carried out at IIT Roorkee, India on a Type-A PKW flume model with two discharge values, the CFD simulations of those two flow conditions and a comparison between the results. The time-averaged velocity values were measured at different locations in the front of inlet and outlet keys (upto a distance of 0.1 m from the bed level) using a 3D Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter. The simulations were performed in Ansys (academic 19.1) CFX solver using finite volume method, standard k-ε turbulent model, (where k denotes the turbulent kinetic energy and ε is the rate of dissipation of k) and multiphase (volume of fluid) modelling. The experimental results showed an increase in the depth-averaged longitudinal flow velocity towards the inlet, but a decrease in that towards the outlet. A significant rise in the upward velocity (in the outer flow region) towards both the keys was observed experimentally and numerically. Both the approaches also indicated a significant increase in the lateral velocity near the inlet, especially in the inner flow region. CFD simulations clearly showed decelerating and accelerating flow zones in front of the outlet and inlet keys, respectively, and also revealed an accelerating flow over the inlet. However, the velocity profile inside the inlet key could not be measured experimentally, possibly due to flow unsteadiness, high turbulence and flow separation, and it demands further research. The CFD results generally underestimated the velocity values for the measured 0.1 m depth of flow and the mean absolute error values for the resultant velocity were 18.32% and 15.52% for the two discharges, respectively. The rise in the approaching flow velocity components towards the inlet and the sloping key enhance the opportunity of sediment passage over a PKW in comparison to other weirs. Extending this work, the study on the flow field near two-cycles and three-cycles PKW models is undergoing.

How to cite: Kadia, S., Kumar, B., Pummer, E., Ruther, N., and Ahmad, Z.: Experimental and CFD Simulation Studies on the Flow Approaching a Type-A Piano Key Weir, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10030,, 2021.

Sub-Session Raw Materials
Gorazd Žibret

Average mined ore grades are constantly decreasing and easily accessible high-grade mineral deposits have already been mined out. Together with the ever-increasing demand for raw materials, a sustainable supply is becoming very challenging for the mining industry. Ores are being exploited in very large operations and in more and more extreme environments. The presence of high temperatures, poisonous gasses or other harmful substances, water, geotechnical instabilities, etc., limits the possibilities for humans to work in such environments, and increases the costs of mining. New paradigm of ore prospection and extraction is needed, and the use of robotics and automation provides a potential solution.

The mid-term vision of mines of the future is that humans would not need to be present at the extraction sites anymore. Mining machinery will become remotely controlled or semi-automated. This would significantly reduce the costs of mining operations and eliminate the risks associated with humans working in life-threating environments. The main challenges are related to sensing of the surroundings and the presentation of such data in a virtual reality model, the machine-human-machine and machine-machine communication, positioning, energy supply and similar. This technology can transform the mining industry in a similar way as the development of construction machines transformed the construction sector in the last century.

In the long-term vision the mines will be completely automated. Mining machines will be able to sense its environment, allowing them to make decisions autonomously. They will also be able to self-assemble, repair, and perhaps even produce their own copies underground. Robots of the mines of the future will be specialised in a similar way workers are specialised today. Ore processing will be accompanied by an autonomous ore processing system at the site of extraction, which will enable the delivery of concentrate or even ingots to the surface and leave the waste material underground. With such systems highly selective low-environmental impact mining of many currently uneconomical ore bodies could become feasible and would allow mining in ultra-deep environments which are today far beyond our reach. With such mining system, mining of extra-terrestrial bodies could also become a reality, and could even put an end to mining on Earth altogether. Many challenges need to be addressed, including energy supply, locomotion, communications, environmental awareness, big data handling and processing, automated decision-making systems, new rock-cutting technologies, ore transport systems, machine and software maintenance and adaptation, etc.

Humanity is already taking first steps towards this vision. Several international projects have been funded on the topic of sensing, using remotely controlled machines or autonomous robots to perform dangerous exploration or mining tasks: iVAMOS!, UNEXMIN, ROBOMINERS, AutoFlyMap, ROBUST, RODEO,  BADGER, Real-Time Mining, MINERAL EYE and others (funded by the Horizon2020), BlueHarvesting, FIREM-II, HoloMine, UNDROMEDA and others (funded or co-funded by the EIT RawMaterials), or several industrially-funded projects such as Longwall automation mining, A3R, MSRBOTS, ARIDuA, and many others. Many companies which develop robots or other automatic equipment for mines are also emerging, including Unexmin Georobotics, EXPLORA, Equipois, Sandvik, Superdroid Robots, National Robotics Engineering Center, BROKK and others.

How to cite: Žibret, G.: Vision of the mine of the future, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8352,, 2021.

Vitor Correia, Julian Hilton, Hari Tulsidas, Michael Neumann, and Balazs Bodo

Converging technologies in robotics, miniaturisation, and cost-efficient drilling are already being used by European researchers to create a robot-miner prototype[1] for small and difficult to access mineral deposits. This will certainly trigger more research and innovation in scalability, resilience, reconfigurability, collective behaviour and operation of the robot(s) in harsh environments, alongside ore metallurgy and processing close-loop systems. The combination of these technologies and the robotisation of underground mining enables the creation of invisible mines. Invisible mines have the potential to reduce the environmental impacts of mines and their footprint while increasing the social acceptance of mining.

A recent United Nations[2] paper emphasises the need of innovation as a critical pathway to achieving the objectives in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and makes an urgent call for new business models in the mining industry. One of the principles it advocates is ‘comprehensive extraction’, also called ‘comprehensive and integrated resource recovery’. This new paradigm rests on the key assumption that a mine site should be disturbed only once, in the process recovering useful materials in an optimised integrated flowsheet and future-proofing any resources that are not of immediate interest rather than discarding them as wastes. The implementation of ‘comprehensive and integrated resource recovery’ can be pulled by the combination of current progress in three areas: a) research and innovation; b) investment activities; and c) skills, education and knowledge. All three, alone or in combination, have a role to play in developing invisible mines. 

Despite efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of mines and their footprint, and to increase the social acceptance of the activity, a conventional economic rationale underpins economic feasibility studies. Under that logic, many minerals are either not extracted or are considered ‘waste’ an end-up being discarded. Advances in mining and ore processing methods designed to maximise robotic mining will create a fundamental shift in traditional business models since the extraction and maximisation of the value of all extracted materials increases the number of interactions in downstream industries. This will change traditional feasibility assessments, calling for the development of intelligent business models, capable of delivering sophisticated, comprehensive analysis, integrating a range of different value streams.

The unfolding of invisible mines combined with intelligent business models will shift skills and competencies of the mining workforce towards more complex cognitive categories with increased requirements in digital literacy, alongside a holistic understanding of the value chains that are using mining outputs and enhanced expertise on communication and stakeholder engagement. This entails the urgent alignment of education and training contents and the continuous review and update of the international sectoral qualifications framework for the raw materials sector[3].

[1] Robominers H2020 project. See

[2] Hilton et al. (2018). Transforming our world’s natural resources: A step change for the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources?

[3] Intermin H2020 project. See

How to cite: Correia, V., Hilton, J., Tulsidas, H., Neumann, M., and Bodo, B.: Making a mine invisible: the coming challenge for geoscientists for sourcing critical raw materials, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6606,, 2021.

Giovanna Antonella Dino, Alessandro Cavallo, and Claudia Chiappino

The acceleration in deployment of the key low carbon technologies in the wind, solar, and energy storage areas has real implications for the commodities market, not only rare earths, such as indium and neodymium. Aluminum, copper, silver, bauxite, iron, lead, and others all stand to potentially benefit from a strong shift to low carbon technologies. It would be reasonable to expect that all low carbon energy systems are more likely than not to be more metal intensive than high-carbon systems. All literature examining material and metals implications for supplying clean technologies agree that building these technologies will result in considerably more material-intensive demand than would traditional fossil fuel mechanisms. At present the minerals/materials considered “critical” (Critical Raw Materials – CRM) for EU economy are mainly constituted by rare earth metals, base and precious metals. The supply of CRM is highly connected to international politics and global market conditions; most of them are exploited in countries other than EU ones, causing high economic dependence from non-EU countries.

RM and CRM are principally extracted from natural resources, urban and industrial landfill sites, and extractive waste facilities. To evaluate the potentially exploitable quantity and typologies of RM/CRM and secondary raw materials (SRM), standardized protocols, including waste characterization and waste volume potentially exploitable are needed. Further to this, and together with environmental and human health aspects, the economic and societal aspects need to be integrated and therefore common cost benefit analysis (CBA) and life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologies should be also used. A more sustainable and integrated approach in the management of extractive industry at large, also thanks to proper Guidelines, is needed to boost the waste recycling. Some tools, as the sustainable finance, can be applied to encourage industries to be more responsible.

Fundamental is the interaction within Research Centers, Academies, Industries and Public Administrations in researching innovative and newer solutions for waste recycling (in terms of new technologies and products) and in guaranteeing the application at a wider scale of the products, objects of patents and already tested, not already present in the global market. In many cases, the possibility to re-use SRM from mining waste is invalidate from landscape constraints or bans on protected areas; to move these limits, it’s necessary working harmonically with Public Administrations and Mining Companies in order to show them the results of materials recovered in terms of LCA, if compared to mining.  The typical objection from “stakeholders” is to consider the removing operations too much invasive on territory, but this belief could be debunked with a correct, agreed approach of the project; good solutions of environmental recovery should be found after exploitation, also to solve safety and pollution problems and return the site in better condition. For these reasons, we consider to give priority to the case-histories which represent a real or potential risk (for production, of stability, hydrogeological, chemical, etc.), but in perspective mostly a precious resource.

The present research investigates the chance to guarantee a more sustainable mining in selected Italian case studies.

How to cite: Dino, G. A., Cavallo, A., and Chiappino, C.: Raw materials (CRM/SRM) supply from waste recycling and landfill mining: interdisciplinary approach to exploit resources from extractive waste facilities, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12675,, 2021.

Sabina Dolenec, Katarina Šter, Klemen Teran, Andrej Ipavec, Maruša Borštnar, Lea Žibret, Bence Kószó, Snežana Nenadović, Nikolina Stamatovska Aluloska, Ildiko Merta, Richard Laucournet, and Gorazd Žibret

Various industrial residues that are either landfilled or currently have a low recycling rate could represent important secondary mineral resource potential for the construction sector. An ever-increasing construction sector causes increased demand for cement-based materials and consequently implies in increase of CO2 emission. Belite-sulfoaluminate cements are potentially an alternative cementitious binder to ordinary Portland cements, due to the lower embodied energy and reduced CO2 emissions compared to OPC clinkers. Its production also allows the substitution of natural raw materials with secondary ones. In the frame of RIS-ALiCE project, funded by the EIT RawMaterials, various industrial and mine residues in Eastern-Southeastern Europe are being mapped. In addition, as a matchmaking tool between the waste holders/producers and potential end-users the registry of secondary mineral raw materials has been developed. In this study, mine and quarry residues have been valorised in order to evaluate their suitability for production of innovative and sustainable low CO2-mineral binders. Residues from three mine sites (mine spoils from two Pb-Zn mines from Slovenia and Serbia and brown coal open pit mine from Slovenia) and two quarry sites (limestone quarries from Slovenia) were considered. Samples were characterized with respect to their chemical, mineralogical, physical and radiological properties. Furhermore, to assess the usability of particular residue in cement production, cement clinkers with belite, calcium sulfoaluminate and ferrite as main phases were synthesised, incorporating certain amounts of mine and quarry waste replacing primary raw materials. Main and trace elements as well as REE of residues were determined by X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy and ICP optical emission spectrophotometry. Mineralogical composition of residues as well as sythesised clinkers was determined by X-ray powder difraction and Rietveled method. Content of radionuclides (40K, 226Ra, and 232Th) was determined by gamma spectroscopy. Depending on the chemical composition of the residues, lower or higher amounts were allowed to be incorporated in the raw mixture for clinker production with targeted phase composition. Potential barriers in the cement production and environmental impact are also discussed. Developed registry with the data valuable for both, waste providers as waste users in Eastern-Southeastern Europe region, can be later-on upscaled also to other regions of Europe. It will provide the data on the available and appropriate secondary resources for cement production which will contrbute to the implementation of sustainable management of raw materials and circular economy.

Keywords: mine waste, quarry waste, cement, valorisation.

How to cite: Dolenec, S., Šter, K., Teran, K., Ipavec, A., Borštnar, M., Žibret, L., Kószó, B., Nenadović, S., Stamatovska Aluloska, N., Merta, I., Laucournet, R., and Žibret, G.: Valorisation of mine and quarry waste in production of sustainable cements, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9385,, 2021.

Giovanni Grieco, Marilena Moroni, Micol Bussolesi, Alessandro Cavallo, and Simone Orizio

Cobalt is a transition metal with a trace element abundance in the Earth’s crust (26.6 ppm). It forms mainly sulfides like carrollite, siegenite and linneite and enters the cobaltite-gersdorffite solid solution and di-tri-arsenides safflorite, rammelsbergite and skutterudite while erythrite and asbolane are secondary Co phases. Cobalt is a Critical Raw Material for the EU, strategically important due to its use in the industry (batteries, superalloys, catalysts etc.).

Italy hosts several Co-bearing hydrothermal deposits, which were variably exploited in the past. In this work we focus on the Co-Fe-Ni hydrothermal veins emplaced within the metabasites of the Lanzo Valleys ophiolite complex in the western sector of the Alpine belt. The vein system is collectively called “Punta Corna mining complex”, and was exploited for Fe, Ag and later Co in the past (Castelli et al., 2011, Moroni et al., 2019).

A detailed field survey of the past cobalt mining works was carried out in summer 2019, followed by sampling, mostly inside mining tunnels and from waste dumps in order to increase data about this poorly known vein system.  Preliminary data comprise transmitted and reflected light study in thin section, XRD and EMPA analyses of selected samples.

Four deposition stages have been recognized in the samples, in agreement with preliminary results in Moroni et al. (2019), with Co enrichment occurring during the third stage. Detected Co phases are skutterudite, safflorite and secondary erythrite. Other common metallic minerals are löllingite, tetrahedrite, chalcopyrite, with Fe carbonate, quartz and baryte as gangue minerals.

In situ sampling allowed for the first time to map distribution of parageneses related to the different stages. Stage I, characterized by the deposition of siderite and ankerite, was detected in the western sector of Punta Corna. Stage II, characterized by baryte deposition, was not detected in any sample, but it was possible to observe baryte associated to siderite on the field in the western sector of Punta Corna. Stage III, characterized by Co-Fe-Ni arsenides, is developed mainly in the ore bodies of Punta Corna but extends also both to the West and to the East. Stage IV, characterized by base metal sulfides, covers the same area of stage III, with the exception of Speranza Mine, to the East of Punta Corna, where it was not detected. These studies are aimed to to evaluate the full extent of the ore system and better characterize the style of the mineralization.


Moroni M., Rossetti P., Naitza S., Magnani L., Ruggieri G., Aquino A., Tartarotti P., Franklin A., Ferrari E., Castelli D., Oggiano G., Secchi F. (2019). Factors Controlling Hydrothermal Nickel and Cobalt Mineralization—Some Suggestions from Historical Ore Deposits in Italy. Minerals 2019, 9, 429.

Castelli, D., Giorza, A., Rossetti, P., Piana, F., Clerico, F. Le mineralizzazioni a siderite e arseniuri di cobalto-ferro-nichel del vallone di Arnàs (Usseglio, valli di Lanzo). In: Rossi M., Gattiglia A. (Eds.), Terre rosse, pietre verdi e blu cobalto. Miniere a Usseglio. Prima raccolta di studi. Museo Civico Alpino “Arnaldo Tazzetti”, Usseglio 2011, 14-21.

How to cite: Grieco, G., Moroni, M., Bussolesi, M., Cavallo, A., and Orizio, S.: Spatial distribution of the ophiolite-hosted Co–Ni–As-rich hydrothermal mineralization in the Punta Corna Mining complex, Lanzo Valleys, Northern Italy, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7589,, 2021.

Bernd Trabi, Florian Bleibinhaus, and Cornelia Tauchner

Blasting operations in quarries are accompanied by ground vibrations which can endanger buildings nearby. A production blast is made of several holes with a small distance to each other, which are blasted with a time delay, for the purpose of production and to reduce the ground vibrations. These production blasts produce a specific radiation pattern. It would be favorable to focus the ground vibrations to a less sensitive direction or area. We want to be able to predict the ground vibrations for a realistic inhomogeneous case at an area around the iron ore mine at mount Erzberg in Austria. Therefore a numerical forward modeling on a 3D model of the iron ore mine and its surrounding area was performed with a 3D elastic code with topography. The 3D model itself is the result of a tomographic travel time inversion. One problem is that the spectral response of a single blast is unknown and therefore we had to find a transfer function which transfers the numeric spectral response to the observed spectral response. After applying the transfer function the amplitude spectra of the numerical solution show a good match to the amplitude spectra of the observed production blasts. In this study, we investigate, if a reduction of ground vibrations can be achieved by blasting simultaneously two arrays with optimized time delays. To achieve that optimized time delays we developed a global search algorithm, based on Markov chain Monte Carlo method which finds potential blast configurations, with minimum impact to critical locations near the quarry. This study is part of the EU-funded project SLIM (Sustainable Low Impact Mining,

How to cite: Trabi, B., Bleibinhaus, F., and Tauchner, C.: Blast vibration reduction, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14821,, 2021.

Florian Bleibinhaus and Bernd Trabi

Seismic vibrations induced by mine blasting are often a nuisance to residents and may even threaten the integrity of sensitive structure in the vicinity of mines. In this study we investigate the potential to reduce such vibrations through the interference with a second blast sequence. Assuming perfectly repeatable source wavelets and an acoustic, homogeneous model, we predict the radiation patterns of blast sequences with the Fourier shift theorem as a function of azimuth and incidence, and we benchmark those predictions with observations from a seismic array deployed at the iron ore mine Mt Erzberg, Austria. We then use our model to optimize the delay times of blast sequences with an inverse algorithm geared towards minimizing the predicted vibrations in certain target zones. Due to its symmetry, a single row of blasts has no azimuthal reduction potential. A second, quasi-simultaneous mine blast can, however, reduce blast-induced vibrations by up to 20% according to our model. In this study, we discuss the principles and the potential of this approach to vibration reduction. In a second study, we will present applied results obtained with a fully elastic model.

How to cite: Bleibinhaus, F. and Trabi, B.: Seismic radiation patterns of mine blasts, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16018,, 2021.

Narcisa Mihaela Marian, Giovanna Giorgetti, Claudia Magrini, Giancarlo Capitani, Lucia Galimberti, Alessandro Cavallo, Riccardo Salvini, Vanneschi Claudio, and Cecilia Viti

 Nowadays, asbestos-containing wastes (ACW) still represent an important environmental problem and a severe health hazard due to the well know pulmonary diseases derived from asbestos fibres inhalation. Except for a very few cases, ACW are currently confined in controlled landfills, giving rise to increasingly high amounts of still hazardous wastes. A promising alternative to landfill confinement is represented by ACW inertization, but the high cost of the inertization processes so far proposed by the scientific community have hampered the creation of actually operative plants. In this paper, we explore the possibility to use an innovative process that ensures the obtainment of asbestos-free inert material in an exceptionally short processing time, thus greatly reducing cost-related problems. The efficacy of the inertization process has been verified through accurate mineralogical investigations on both chrysotile and crocidolite de-activated fibres, through X-ray diffraction, scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Overall mineralogical, microstructural and granulometric characteristics of the inert bulk material suggest that it could be successfully re-used as a secondary raw material in ceramic industries. This innovative inertization procedure could therefore provide an effective and economically sustainable solution for ACW management.

How to cite: Marian, N. M., Giorgetti, G., Magrini, C., Capitani, G., Galimberti, L., Cavallo, A., Salvini, R., Claudio, V., and Viti, C.: From hazardous asbestos containing wastes (ACW) to new secondary raw material through a new sustainable inertization process: a multimethodological mineralogical study, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10825,, 2021.

Davide Bernasconi, Caterina Caviglia, Enrico Destefanis, Linda Pastero, Costanza Bonadiman, Alessandro Pavese, Angelo Agostino, and Renato Boero

Nowadays municipal solid waste incineration (MSWI) has become a widespread and consolidated technology for MSW treatment all over the world. Indeed, it allows to reach up to 90% of waste volume reduction, while also producing energy. However, the incineration process has some drawbacks, one of which is the production of different residues that must be disposed of. Specifically, particular attention must be paid to fly ash (FA), which generally represents one of the most dangerous residues. FA is collected by the flue gas purification system and counts for around the 5% w/w of total incinerated waste. MSWI FA is regulated as a hazardous waste, mainly due to high concentrations of heavy metals (Pb, Cr, Zn, Cd) and soluble salts (chlorides and sulfates). Moreover, the average size of FA particles can be as low as 50-20 µm, thus determining a high surface area, which can increase toxic elements release into the environment. Therefore, many preliminary physicochemical stabilization treatments have been proposed over the years for their possible reuse as construction materials (e.g. water washing, thermal treatment, etc..). However, a detailed characterization of the residue in terms of heavy metals speciation is often overlooked. Indeed, this represents necessary information in order to understand and control the residue behavior in a reuse scenario and to design stabilization treatments as effective as possible.

In this work the analysis of heavy metals distribution and speciation of Turin MSW FA has been conducted, by combining both experimental treatments and geochemical modelling. In particular, a 4-step sequential extraction method has allowed to evaluate how heavy metals are distributed among four fractions with different physicochemical properties and, then, to deduct preliminary considerations about their leaching availability. In addition, pH-dependant leaching tests coupled by geochemical modelling using Virtual MINTEQ software has provided a more detailed insight into heavy metals speciation, by proposing possible phases which are often not detected by bulk analytical techniques. Finally, a general assessment of the hazardousness of Turin FA is discussed.

How to cite: Bernasconi, D., Caviglia, C., Destefanis, E., Pastero, L., Bonadiman, C., Pavese, A., Agostino, A., and Boero, R.: Insight into municipal solid waste fly ash (MSWFA) heavy metals speciation by selective extractions and geochemical modelling, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14169,, 2021.

Enrico Destefanis, Caterina Caviglia, Angelo Agostino, Davide Bernasconi, Linda Pastero, Costanza Bonadiman, and Alessandro Pavese

Municipal solid waste incinerator (MSWI) fly ash can represent a sustainable source of construction materials, but it needs to be treated in order to remove dangerous substances as chlorides, sulfates, and heavy metals. The concentration of salts and heavy metals in fly ash usually exceeds the law threshold and so they are considered a hazardous waste, unsuitable for reuse in concrete and civil engineering applications.In this work, a complete characterization of fly ash coming from a northern Italy thermovalorization plant was investigated, both on the solid and leachates composition, focused on the particle size, by X-Ray fluorescence and X-Ray diffraction on the solid matrices and ICP-MS analysis on the leachates.Using mechanical sieving on several subsamples of fly ash, six different particle size were separated and analyzed, and compared to the bulk fly ash composition.The most abundant elements are represented by Ca, Cl, S, and Si; trace elements and heavy metals are mainly represented by Zn, Fe, Al, Pb. The XRF and ICP-MS analysis show a general increasing trend, as the particle size decrease, of Na, K, Cl, S, as well as Cr, Cd, Cu, Pb, Sb, Zn, Ba, both on solid and leachates composition; on the contrary Ca and Si decrease.After leaching Cl and K decrease consistently, while it can be observed an increase of all the other elements, due to the weight loss attributable mainly to the leaching of Na-K chlorides, that is confirmed also by the X-Ray diffraction analysis.

How to cite: Destefanis, E., Caviglia, C., Agostino, A., Bernasconi, D., Pastero, L., Bonadiman, C., and Pavese, A.: MSWI fly ash particle size chemical and mineralogical characterization, before and after leaching tests, aimed to reuse., EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14543,, 2021.

Manuela Lasagna, Giovanna Antonella Dino, Susanna Mancini, and Domenico Antonio De Luca

In recent decades, the environmental aspects connected to georesources management have come to the forefront. Topics such as “Sustainability”, “Responsibility”, “Eco-compatibility” are more and more important and the path towards an environmental and social sustainability of the "wise" use of georesources, leads to a "rethink" of "our" way of producing and consuming in an intergenerational perspective, also through a deeper understanding of the ethical value of the close link between socio-economic and natural systems.

The acquisition of the awareness about the necessity to move towards a more sustainable society needs a deep change of human attitude, which should involve institutions, industries and individuals. Itis fundamental to involve developed and developing countries in this new approach. A change in human attitudes starts with a proper training and education for all the subjects involved in georesource management, and in particular for students. Indeed, education for sustainable development is a strategic objective for the present and for the future of global development (UNECE, 2009). Education at all levels is the basis of the training of people able to live in current affairs with critical and conscious thinking and with a sense of legality in continuous construction (UNECE, 2011).

An example based on improving capacity building for the sustainable use of georesources is SUGERE (Sustainable Sustainability and Wise Use of Geological Resources) project, whose main objectives are the international standardization of university training and teaching activities concerning Earth Sciences and Mining Engineering, and the promotion of a more responsible and sustainable use of georesources. Thanks to SUGERE project, a strong research and training networks between European and non-European universities interested in mining issues have been set up.

SUGERE project aims to strengthen the role of the investigated discipline (earth sciences and mining engineering), to develop updated strategies for the sustainable management of natural resources, and to implement new collaboration thanks to an international network focused on local and social economic development in the geological/mining context. It has been elaborated a prototype proposal involving three representative African countries (Capo Verde, Angola and Mozambique) that can be replicated in other countries (African and not African). The key issue is the concept of Local Economic Development (LED) in the context of Mining/Geology combined with Environmental and Social Economic aspects.

The main objective is to graduate persons that are able to oppose the "Resource Curse"   that strikes countries that underperform economically, despite benefitting from valuable natural resources. Furthermore, it is expected to bring new ideas back to the European Partners. Main output of the project is the implementation of five degrees covering the three levels (BSc, MSc and PhD) whose common denominator LED is new in Geology/Mining.

The culture of sustainability and the deepening of skills in the field of geomining form the basis for the development of critical thinking, which is necessary for the resolution of local problems, for the acquisition of ethical values and technical skills that underpin sustainable development.

How to cite: Lasagna, M., Dino, G. A., Mancini, S., and De Luca, D. A.: Sustainability in georesources management: the importance of an updated school system to face the new challenges connected to mining activities, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12038,, 2021.