Variation and changes in land-use intensities behind nickel mining: Coupling operational and satellite data

Yasunori Iwatsuki, Kenichi Nakajima, Hiroya Yamano, Akira Otsuki, Shinsuke Murakami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Case studies of nickel mines in New Caledonia revealed significant differences among mining sites even though the mines host the same type of nickel laterite ore deposit and employ the same open-cut mining method. The intensity of land use change was evaluated as the area of land use change per unit of metal contained in extracted ores. Among the six mines studied, the lowest intensity of 0.00177 [m2/kg] is very close to the reference value of 0.0018 [m2/kg] provided by the nickel industry, whereas the highest-impact mine has an intensity approximately ten times greater, at 0.0191 [m2/kg]. This wide variation is attributed to the different operational stage of each mine. It means careful and continuous monitoring of such changes is necessary. We also evaluated historical changes in land use intensity, and found a decreasing trend, which may be the result of technological developments in the downstream sector. Our results show that the use of a single, representative intensity value can be misleading. Instead, it is necessary to analyze mine-specific changes. Historical data are also useful for analyzing the impacts of technological improvements over time. Both forms of analysis are feasible by coupling satellite imagery with operational data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-366
Number of pages6
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Volume134
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Land use change
  • New Caledonia
  • Nickel ore mining
  • Satellite image analysis
  • Site-by-site differences

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