Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Ore Transportation Route Alternatives for Eagle Mine

This research applies the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) evaluation toward transportation options of existing mining operations in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. More specifically, it performs a comparative life cycle assessment of three different route alternatives for transporting copper/nickel ore from Eagle mine to Humboldt mill to quantify the potential environmental impacts of the transportation activities in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. The alternatives included the currently used highway route (CR-550), an alternative highway route (CR-595) considered in the planning stage of the mine, and a conceptual rail route designed for the purpose of this study. This assessment was performed using two different methods; Detailed LCA and Operational LCA. The Detailed LCA incorporated the emissions arising from the complete life cycle of the transportation activity, including the construction, operation and maintenance phases of both Infrastructure and equipment. This method used SimaPro version 8 software along with Ecoinvent v3.1 database and several other custom datasets created using regional and study specific data. It is apparent from previous research that emissions from the “Operations” phase often account for a major portion of the overall impacts, so part of this research investigates whether a process that includes only the Operations phase emissions would still provide reliable outcomes. The Operational LCA method considered the emissions only from the operations phase activities and the life cycle of the fuels used from well to wheel. This method used the in-built database of GREET 2016 model, along with case specific data on fuel consumption and type of vehicles used. The LCA was performed for the currently expected mine life of 8 years and also for 9, 10, 15, and 20-year mine lives, as the ongoing explorations around the mine may offer potential for mine life extension(s).

  • 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:
    • Oduru, Soumith Kumar
    • Lautala, Pasi
  • Publication Date: 2017-8-1


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Maps; Photos; Tables;
  • Pagination: 14p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01676953
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: NURail2016-MTU-R15
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC52 (Grant 2)
  • Created Date: Jul 19 2018 10:29AM