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Mineral Carbonation as the Core of an Industrial Symbiosis for Energy-Intensive Minerals Conversion


Geoff Brent
Orica Technology Centre
PO Box 196
Kurri Kurri
NSW 2327


The longer term sustainability of the minerals sector may hinge, in large part, on finding innovative solutions to the challenges of energy intensity and carbon dioxide (CO2) management. This article outlines the need for large-scale “carbon solutions” that might be shared by several colocated energy-intensive and carbon-intensive industries. In particular, it explores the potential for situating a mineral carbonation plant as a carbon sink at the heart of a minerals and energy complex to form an industrial symbiosis. Several resource-intensive industries can be integrated synergistically in this way, to enable a complex that produces energy and mineral products with low net CO2 emissions. An illustrative hypothetical case study of such a system within New South Wales, Australia, has been constructed, on the basis of material and energy flows derived from Aspen modeling of a serpentine carbonation process. The synergies and added value created have the potential to significantly offset the energy and emission penalties and direct costs of CO2 capture and storage. This suggests that greenfield minerals beneficiation and metals refining plants should consider closer integration with the power production and energy provision plants on which they depend, together with a carbon solution, such as mineral carbonation, as a critical element of such integration. Other sustainability considerations are highlighted.