A Life Cycle Assessment of ABB Process Industries’ mine hoist system

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Hjelm, Axel
Ström, Fredrik
An extensive shift in how materials are being produced, used, and disposed of, and measures in how to use effectively and efficiently, is needed to handle future environmental challenges and comply with the Paris Agreement. This study investigates the environmental impacts of ABB Process Industries’ mine hoist system by conducting an attributional LCA on a recently installed system currently used by LKAB in Kiruna. Mine hoist systems are industrial lifts used in underground mines for transporting mining ore, equipment, and humans. The information for the assessment is gathered from interviews and contacts with personnel at ABB and LKAB. The LCA-software openLCA is used in combination with the database Ecoinvent v.3.7. Within the investigated mine hoist system, assumed to be used for 25 years in Kiruna in northern Sweden, the LCA results showed that the use phase was the most contributing life cycle phase. The electricity consumption over the life cycle showed the most contributing activity within all investigated environmental impact categories and contributed 72% of the climate change impact. The sensitivity analysis led to the understanding of critical aspects and how to proceed. Differences in electricity mix showed that it is possible to save up to 266 kilotonnes of CO2eq over the lifetime. Materials used in various applications for yearly maintenance over the entire lifetime showed a significant contribution. Each year, close to 30 tonnes of materials are replaced as maintenance materials, and over 25 years, more than one kilotonne of materials are used. A circular perspective and life cycle thinking, framed around waste and resource management with measures to use materials more effectively and efficiently and measures to extend the usage, could reduce the material flows with significant environmental savings. The study helps ABB Process industries to understand the environmental impacts of their operations and provides suggestions for how to proceed in their environmental work. The results of this study, emphasizing the environmental impacts associated with energy consumption and material usage throughout the lifetime, shows how ABB could reduce the environmental impact associated with products offered by the hoist division. Other impacts that ABB and LKAB initially believed had more significant importance, such as transportations, end of life treatment, and lubrication oils usage showed little importance. The study found that ensuring that the energy comes from clean sources and further measures to reduce the material use, especially maintenance materials, are the two key takeaways and should be prioritized in order to reduce environmental impacts.
Life Cycle Assessment, LCA, Circular economy, Sustainability, Elevator, Lift, Mining
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