4.6 Article

Global Patterns and Trends for Non-Metallic Minerals used for Construction


Volume 21, Issue 4, Pages 924-937


DOI: 10.1111/jiec.12471


3Rs; global material flows; industrial ecology; material flow analysis (MFA); nonmetallic minerals; sustainable materials management


  1. Environment Research and Technology Development Fund of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan [1-1402]
  2. United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) International Resource Panel
  3. Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research [15H02863, 26281056, 15H02862] Funding Source: KAKEN

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Despite accounting for almost 50% of global material use, nonmetallic minerals-mostly used for construction of buildings and infrastructure-are the material flow analysis (MFA) category with the highest uncertainty. The main reason for this is incomplete reporting in official national statistics because of ease of availability and the low per-unit cost of these materials. However, the environmental burden associated with nonmetallic minerals, which include energy use for extraction and transport, land-use change, and disposal of large amounts of construction demolition waste, call for a thorough understanding of the magnitude of nonmetallic mineral flows. Previous estimates for nonmetallic minerals have used simplistic assumptions. This study aims to increase the precision of nonmetallic mineral accounts at national and global level using consumption of bitumen, bricks, cement, and railways in combination with technical coefficients from the engineering literature to infer the actual yearly consumption of nonmetallic minerals. We estimate the extraction of nonmetallic minerals and provide uncertainty estimates for the new accounts as well as information about consumption by different sectors. Analyzing the evolution of consumption for seven world regions, we find that, in North America and Europe, the consumption of nonmetallic minerals over the past 40 years has followed the growth patterns of population, whereas for all other regions consumption has been closely related to gross domestic product (GDP). A more accurate account of global and country-by-country extraction of nonmetallic minerals may provide insights into supply shortages and inform waste management strategies for construction and demolition waste.


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