Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Road and Multimodal Transportation Options – A Case Study of Copperwood Mine Project

This project uses a case study to assess the environmental impacts (emissions) of different transportation options for transporting ore between a planned copper mine (Copperwood, MI) and a processing plant (White Pine, MI), and concentrate from the processing plant to an intermediate location (Escanaba, MI). The ore transportation options include a truck only option and two multimodal (truck-rail) options, while the concentrate transportation options include truck only, rail only and one multimodal (truck-rail) option. This study uses a process called Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to estimate the overall life cycle emissions for all different transportation alternatives considered for the Copperwood Project. This LCA is performed using SimaPro software covering construction, operations, maintenance, and end of life phases of the infrastructure and equipment involved. The results are obtained in terms of kilogram equivalents of CO₂ (kg CO₂eq) and represent the 100 year Global Warming Potential (GWP) of the greenhouse gas emissions. In an attempt to facilitate incorporation of these results into economic studies like Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA), they are converted into cost factors (US dollars) using the “social carbon unit costs” published by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The final part of this study focuses on understanding three different aspects of economic evaluation of alternatives. Firstly, State agency [Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)] decision making perspective, by discussing the general objectives of the MDOT when determining support for transportation alternatives, and reviewing two specific DOT programs available to support projects similar to Copperwood, namely Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) – Category-A, and Freight Economic Development Program (FEDP). Secondly, reviewing the currently available software for conducting economic analysis of transportation projects in the U.S. The final section includes a brief discussion on the economic analysis considerations for Copperwood project, including MDOT support mechanisms.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This research was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers Program.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Michigan Technological University, Houghton

    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    1400 Townsend Drive
    Houghton, MI  United States  49931-1295

    National University Rail Center (NURail)

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 205 N. Mathews Avenue
    Urbana, IL  United States  61801

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Kalluri, Sumanth
    • Lautala, Pasi
    • Handler, Robert
  • Publication Date: 2016-4-3


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Maps; Tables;
  • Pagination: 12p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01676951
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: NURail2015-MTU-R13
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT12-G-UTC18
  • Created Date: Jul 19 2018 10:28AM