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A hybrid semi-quantitative approach for impact assessment of mining activities on sustainable development indexes

Amirshenava, Sina, Osanloo, Morteza
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.218 pp. 823-834
biosphere, decision support systems, iron, mining, multi-criteria decision making, social welfare, socioeconomic factors, sustainable development, Iran
Mining as a part of anthroposphere is one of the main activities for the world economy and creating social welfare. However, such activities entail the damages to the four other spheres of the environment including atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. These negative effects along with some of the socio-economic impacts of mining activities threaten access to sustainable development (SD) objectives. Nevertheless, the impact assessment on SD indexes is important for keeping mining activities in line with the principles of SD. The present study was conducted to develop a generic procedure for impact assessment of mining activities on SD indexes. To achieve this goal, by taking advantages of two dimensional (2D) assessment matrix and Multi-Criteria Decision-Making techniques, a hybrid approach for assessing the impacts of mining activities on the criteria related to SD indexes was proposed. Fourteen SD criteria including eight environmental, three social and three economic criteria were suggested for this purpose. Compared to other similar studies, the proposed approach is preferred because of its specific impacting factors for each mining project and considering the relative weight of each impacting factor on 2D assessment matrix. The proposed approach was verified in two iron ore mines in Iran. The results showed that the relative score of overall impacts of mining activities on SD indexes in these two mines is 38% and 46%, which indicate the medium severity level of overall impacts in these two mines. Therefore, the proposed approach can be used as a reliable decision support system to evaluate the impacts of mining activities on SD indexes and determine the severity level of impacts on each SD criterion.