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UNFC and Anthropogenic Resources

Anthropogenic resources are stocks that are found in the anthroposphere (mineral resources, energy resources, soil resources, water resources, biological resources). Usually, these stocks are designated as “wastes”.

Sustainable Development Goal #12 calls for substantial reduction of waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.

Anthropogenic resources provides or can provide useful benefits through the provision of secondary raw materials and energy used in the economic activity.

Growing interest in sustainable resource supply has created a need to assess the future availability of raw materials. Investors, regulators, governments and industry require a common and comprehensive understanding for evaluating the availability of resources from both natural and anthropogenic sources, on the project, country and global levels.

In contrast to natural resources, classification and reporting of anthropogenic resources is currently not established and guided by standardized and globally accepted frameworks.

At its sixth session, the EGRC noted that “future research is needed to define specific, quantifiable criteria for categorizing various kind of anthropogenic resources under UNFC-2009 that would allow for fair comparisons between naturally occurring and anthropogenic resource deposits”.

Anthropogenic Resources Working Group

At its seventh session in May 2016, the EGRC recommended, “a small sub-group be established to explore the Application of the United Nations Framework Classification for Fossil Energy and Mineral Reserves and Resources 2009 (UNFC-2009) to Anthropogenic Resources”.

Based on the EGRC recommendations Technische Universität Wien initiated a pan-European expert network with participants from 26 countries on “Mining the European Anthroposphere” (COST Action CA15115, Acronym: MINEA) in December 2015. MINEA receives funding from the COST Association and the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020, respectively. The network aims to actuate the classification and reporting of anthropogenic material resources/reserves.

In May 2016, at the seventh session of EGRC, MINEA invited the EGRC Members to join the expert network and proposed to establish a new Working Group for developing Specifications and Guidelines to apply UNFC to Anthropogenic Resources.

Membership of Anthropogenic Resources Working Group

Three additional MINEA Working Groups have been implemented to focus on the resource potential of three different anthropogenic resources examples - construction and demolition waste, landfills and mining residues, and residues from solid waste incineration.

Anthropogenic Resources Specifications

The Working Group is currently focused on:

  • Development of draft Specifications that would allow application of UNFC to Anthropogenic Resources
  • Selection of case studies, which are expected to be released as a guideline for different commodities/deposits.

The initial draft specifications for the application of UNFC to Anthropogenic Resources was presented at the eighth session of the EGRC, April 2017. Based on the comments received, the Working Group has revised the draft, which is now available for public comments.