Document Type: Original Research Paper


Department of Mining and Geology, Qaemshahr Branch, Islamic Azad University, Qaemshahr, Iran



Sustainability assessment has received numerous attentions in the mining industry. Mining sustainability includes the environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and a sustainable development is achieved when all these dimensions improve in a balanced manner. Therefore, to measure the sustainability score of a mine, we require an approach that evaluates all these three dimensions of mining sustainability. Some frameworks have been developed to compute the sustainability score of mining activities; however, some of them are very complicated and the others do not cover all the environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainability. In order to fill this gap, this work was designed to introduce a practical approach to determine the score of mining sustainability. In order to develop this approach, initially, 14 negative and positive influential macro factors in the sustainability of open-pit mines were identified. Then the important levels of the factors were estimated based on the comments and scores of some experts. Two checklists were constructed for the negative and positive factors. The sustainability score was computed using these checklists and the importance levels of the factors. The score range was between -100 and +100. In order to implement the proposed approach, the Angouran lead and zinc mine was selected. The sustainability score of the Angouran mine was +47.91, which indicated that the this mine had a sustainable condition. This score could increase through modification of some factors.


[1]. Chakraborty, M.K., Ahmad, M., Singh, R.S., Pal, D., Bandopadhyay, C. and Chaulya, S.K. (2002). Determination of the emission rate from various opencast mining operations. Environmental Modelling & Software. 17 (5): 467-480.

[2]. Tadesse, S. (2000). Environmental Policy in Mining: Corporate Strategy and Planning for Closure. A contribution to published book (pp. 415-422). ISBN 1–56670-365-4.

[3]. Galdeano-Gómez, E., Aznar-Sánchez, J.A., Pérez-Mesa, J.C. and Piedra-Muñoz, L. (2017). Exploring synergies among agricultural sustainability dimensions: An empirical study on farming system in Almería (Southeast Spain). Ecological Economics, 140, 99-109.

[4]. Kajikawa, Y. (2008). Research core and framework of sustainability science. Sustainability Science. 3 (2): 215-239.

[5]. British Geological Survey. (2018). Available online: mineralsUK/statistics/worldStatistics. html. (accessed on 30 October 2020).

[6]. U.S. Geological Survey. (2018). Available online: (accessed on 30 October 2020).

[7]. Hansen, Y., Broadhurst, J.L. and Petrie, J.G. (2008). Modelling leachate generation and mobility from copper sulphide tailings–An integrated approach to impact assessment. Minerals Engineering. 21 (4): 288-301.

[8]. Folchi, R. (2003, February). Environmental impact statement for mining with explosives: a quantitative method. In Proceedings of the annual conference on explosives and blasting technique (Vol. 2, pp. 285-296). ISEE; 1999.

[9]. Laurence, D. (2011). Establishing a sustainable mining operation: an overview. Journal of Cleaner Production, 19: (2-3), 278-284.

[10]. Phillips, J. (2012). Using a mathematical model to assess the sustainability of proposed bauxite mining in Andhra Pradesh, India from a quantitative-based environmental impact assessment. Environmental Earth Sciences, 67(6), 1587-1603.

[11]. Phillips, J. (2013). The application of a mathematical model of sustainability to the results of a semi-quantitative environmental impact assessment of two iron ore opencast mines in Iran. Applied Mathematical Modelling, 37(14-15): 7839-7854.

[12]. Rahmanpour, M. and Osanloo, M. (2017). A decision support system for determination of a sustainable pit limit. Journal of cleaner production, 141, 1249-1258.

[13]. Ebrahimabadi, A., Pouresmaieli, M., Afradi, A., Pouresmaeili, E. and Nouri, S. (2018). Comparing Two Methods of PROMETHEE and Fuzzy TOPSIS in Selecting the Best Plant Species for the Reclamation of Sarcheshmeh Copper Mine. Asian Journal of Water, Environment and Pollution. 15 (2): 141-152.

[14]. Pouresmaieli, M. and Osanloo, M. (2019, December). A Valuation Approach to Investigate the Sustainability of Sorkhe-Dizaj Iron Ore Mine of Iran. In International Symposium on Mine Planning & Equipment Selection (pp. 431-446). Springer, Cham.

[15]. Pouresmaieli, M. and Osanloo, M. (2019, November). Establishing a Model to Reduce the Risk of Premature Mine Closure. In IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science (Vol. 362, No. 1, p. 012005). IOP Publishing.

[16]. Antoniadis, V., Shaheen, S.M., Boersch, J., Frohne, T., Du Laing, G. and Rinklebe, J. (2017). Bioavailability and risk assessment of potentially toxic elements in garden edible vegetables and soils around a highly contaminated former mining area in Germany. Journal of environmental management, 186, 192-200.

[17]. Birch, C. (2017). Optimization of cut-off grades considering grade uncertainty in narrow, tabular gold deposits. Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. 117 (2): 149-156.

[18]. Goodfellow, R.C. and Dimitrakopoulos, R. (2016). Global optimization of open pit mining complexes with uncertainty. Applied Soft Computing. 40: 292-304.

[19]. Bouchard, J., Sbarbaro, D. and Desbiens, A. (2018). Plant Automation for Energy-Efficient Mineral Processing. In Energy Efficiency in the Minerals Industry (pp. 233-250). Springer, Cham.

[20]. Wright, M., Tartari, V., Huang, K.G., Di Lorenzo, F. and Bercovitz, J. (2018). Knowledge worker mobility in context: Pushing the boundaries of theory and methods. Journal of Management Studies. 55 (1): 1-26.

[21]. Ranjan, V., Sen, P., Kumar, D. and Saraswat, A. (2017). Enhancement of mechanical stability of waste dump slope through establishing vegetation in a surface iron ore mine. Environmental Earth Sciences. 76 (1): 35.

[22]. Bridge, G. (2017). Mining and Mineral Resources. The International Encyclopedia of Geography.

[23]. Cuervo, V., Burge, L., Beaugrand, H., Hendershot, M. and Evans, S.G. (2017, May). Downstream Geomorphic Response of the 2014 Mount Polley Tailings Dam Failure, British Columbia. In Workshop on World Landslide Forum (pp. 281-289). Springer, Cham.

[24]. Martín-Crespo, T., Gómez-Ortiz, D., Martín-Velázquez, S., Martínez-Pagán, P., De Ignacio, C., Lillo, J. and Faz, Á. (2018). Geoenvironmental characterization of unstable abandoned mine tailings combining geophysical and geochemical methods (Cartagena-La Union district, Spain). Engineering Geology. 232: 135-146.

[25]. Amirshenava, S. and Osanloo, M. (2019). A hybrid semi-quantitative approach for impact assessment of mining activities on sustainable development indexes. Journal of Cleaner Production. 218: 823-834.

[26]. Aznar-Sánchez, J.A., Velasco-Muñoz, J.F., Belmonte-Ureña, L.J. and Manzano-Agugliaro, F. (2019). Innovation and technology for sustainable mining activity: A worldwide research assessment. Journal of Cleaner Production. 221: 38-54.

[27]. Asr, E.T., Kakaie, R., Ataei, M. and Mohammadi, M.R.T. (2019). A review of studies on sustainable development in mining life cycle. Journal of Cleaner Production, 229, 213-231.

[28]. Shang, C., Wu, T., Huang, G. and Wu, J. (2019). Weak sustainability is not sustainable: socioeconomic and environmental assessment of Inner Mongolia for the past three decades. Resources, Conservation and Recycling. 141: 243-252.

[29]. Cheng, X., Danek, T., Drozdova, J., Huang, Q., Qi, W., Zou, L. and Xiang, Y. (2018). Soil heavy metal pollution and risk assessment associated with the Zn-Pb mining region in Yunnan, Southwest China. Environmental monitoring and assessment. 190 (4): 194.

[30]. Ardejania, F. D., Shafaeia, S. Z., Moradzadeh, A., Marandi, R., Kakaei, R. and Shokri, B. J. (2008). Environmental problems related to pyrite oxidation from an active coal washing plant, Alborz Sharghi, Iran. In Mine Water and the Environment, 10th International Mine Water Association Congress (pp. 2-5).

[31]. Miranda, M., Chambers, D. and Coumans, C. (2005). Framework for responsible mining: a guide to evolving standards.

[32]. Parameswaran, K. (2016). Sustainability considerations in innovative process development. In Innovative Process Development in Metallurgical Industry (pp. 257-280). Springer, Cham.

[33]. Gorman, M.R. and Dzombak, D.A. (2018). A review of sustainable mining and resource management: transitioning from the life cycle of the mine to the life cycle of the mineral. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 137, 281e291.

[34]. Jodeiri Shokri, B., Zare Naghadehi, M., Doulati Ardejani, F. and Hadadi, F. (2020). Probabilistic prediction of acid mine drainage generation risk based on pyrite oxidation process in coal washery rejects-A Case Study. Journal of Mining and Environment.

[35]. Zhang, Y., Lu, W.X. and Yang, Q.C. (2015). The impacts of mining exploitation on the environment in the Changchun–Jilin–Tumen economic area, Northeast China. Natural Hazards. 76 (2): 1019-1038.

[36]. Statistics Canada, Labor Force Survey; and ISED calculations (accessed 28 July 2020).