Environmental impacts of domestic resource extraction in China

Introduction: The rapid development of economy has led to extensive raw material consumption and relevant environmental damage in China. To analyze environmental impacts and identify materials resulting in these environmental effects via raw material extraction, we combine economy-wide material flow accounting and life-cycle analysis methods to estimate environmental impacts of Chinese domestic extraction (DE) during the period of 1992–2015. The relationship between these increasing environmental impacts and Chinese GDP was also explored by decoupling analysis. Outcomes: Results show that Chinese DE increased by 372% during 1992–2015. The global warming potential, abiotic depletion potential, and respiratory inorganics of Chinese DE increased by 195%, 46%, and 408%, respectively. In terms of specific materials, extraction of iron ores, gravel and sand, and coal induced the most environmental impacts. The relationship between environmental impacts and Chinese GDP/DE was characterized by relative decoupling. Conclusion: To minimize the environmental impacts of extraction, we recommend that the Chinese government improve its extraction techniques and reduce excess demand for materials with large extraction such as iron ores, gravel and sand, and coal. We also recommend researching alternative materials for scarce resources like molybdenum, gold, and fluorite.