Mining the mineral potential of Amsterdam

Published on the 27th of January 2017

Metabolic has published a landmark report on urban mining for PUMA, outlining the potential mineral wealth in Amsterdam’s homes.

Short for ‘Prospecting the Urban Mines of Amsterdam’, PUMA aims to provide a first glimpse of the potential for harvesting the vast stocks of metals – such as steel, copper and aluminium – that are present in the city. Globally, ore concentrations are going down, and it takes ever more energy to get the metals out. Worldwide, 7% to 8% of all energy consumption is now used to produce metals. It could take far less energy to take the metals from urban mines, but a comprehensive examination of the potential for this has never been fully undertaken.

In a collaboration between Metabolic, Leiden University’s Institute for Environmental Sciences (CML), the Waag Society, and TU Delft, the research project has resulted in the development of a model for estimating the metal content of residential buildings. On the basis of the model, the Waag Society created a visualization of Amsterdam’s metal stocks in a ‘geological map’ of the city. For the first time, this shows where metal concentrations occur in the city, and quantifies the total potential for extracting these metals via urban mining.

The results of the research, which has been funded as part of the Stimulus calls by the Amsterdam institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS), were presented on January 25th. Amongst the conclusions in the report, were that clear policies for mineral extraction need to be developed, and that mapping the potential other parts of the urban environment – such as infrastructure, and industrial and commercial buildings – needs to be undertaken. The project consortium will now start looking for opportunities to build on this work and apply it in other cities.

You can read the full report here.
You can also find more information about the project (and other associated reports) on PUMA’s website here, and take a look at the geological map of Amsterdam here.

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