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Meeting 2022 TMS Annual Meeting & Exhibition
Symposium REWAS 2022: Sustainable Production and Development Perspectives
Presentation Title Economics-informed Material System Modeling of the Copper Supply Chain
Author(s) John Ryter, Xinkai Fu, Karan Bhuwalka, Richard Roth, Elsa Olivetti
On-Site Speaker (Planned) John Ryter
Abstract Scope Material production drives an increasingly large fraction of CO2-equivalent emissions. Material efficiency strategies such as recycling serve to reduce these emissions. However, prior analyses of such strategies do not include economically induced rebound effects, overestimating the associated environmental benefits. We present a dynamic supply chain simulation model for copper through 2040 incorporating inventory-driven price evolution, dynamic material flow analysis, and life cycle assessment alongside mine-level economic evaluation of opening, closing, and capacity utilization decisions. We show that increases in recycling suppress raw material prices, driving increases in demand that limit primary production reduction and offset ~45% of the potential environmental benefits. Sufficiently small recycling increases and policy reversals were found capable of increasing mining and CO2-equivalent emissions. This model was expanded to accommodate regional variations and assess the impacts of China’s solid waste import ban and the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating the need for further investment in secondary markets.
Proceedings Inclusion? Planned:
Keywords Copper / Nickel / Cobalt, Environmental Effects, Modeling and Simulation


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