Life cycle impact assessment of artisanal sandstone mining on the environment and health of mine workers

John Francis Agwa-Ejon, Anup Pradhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) is considered as a means to support and improve the quality of rural life, and is often the only activity that local communities have to sustain themselves. It is important to understand the nature of ASM and associated environmental effects in order to make informed decisions on the management, licensing and policy formulation of the ASM sector. Compared to other mined commodities such as, gold or diamond, the studies focusing on environmental and health impacts of sandstone mining are limited. This study used life cycle assessment (LCA) tool to evaluate the overall impact of artisanal sandstone mining (ASAM) on the environment and human health. The impact categories assessed in the study included: resource depletion, global warming, ozone layer depletion and acidification. It was observed that the impact of ASAM on the environment was minimal, however the high physical demand of the work negatively affected the health of the miners. The most common health related issues with the miners was observed to be silicosis and musculoskeletal problems. Fossil fuel used during transportation was observed to be the highest contributor for most of the impact categories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-78
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • Artisanal sandstone mining
  • Environmental impacts
  • Health
  • LCA
  • QwaQwa
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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