Environmental Assessment of Global Magnesium Production

Concerns about climate change call for a careful assessment of the environmental impact of the supply chain of critical materials such as magnesium (Mg) which has a broad range of applications. Enhancing the circularity of this material is vital for ensuring its sustainable use. As the lightest structural metal, magnesium is considered one of the most relevant strategic critical materials for products where lightweight design is needed, e.g., for low greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting technologies. The global demand for magnesium alloys has rapidly increased for technical and engineering applications.

One of the solutions to the problems related to the criticality of magnesium lies in improving its circularity by recycling and developing ways to use it more efficiently. While the major focus in magnesium management is on replacing primary production with recycled material, environmental concerns of recycling activities such as demand for energy and water, as well as generating emissions, are often overlooked. Besides, there is a gap in the literature on the holistic assessment of functional (recovered Mg reused in the closed-loop supply chain) and non-functional (recovered Mg reused in the open-loop supply chain) processing at the recycling stage a center of the circular economy concept at a global scale. Therefore, the global magnesium production chain should be considered on a life cycle basis to evaluate its environmental impacts on overall supply chain stages, from mining to recycling.

Hence, we present a novel dynamic model of the global supply chain of magnesium to perform an environmental sustainability assessment for Mg recycling, including functional and non-functional processes in line with the circular economy concept.


Post Doctoral Researcher
Saeed Rahimpour


The novelty of our research consists in conducting a comprehensive assessment of the quantitative impact of functional and non-functional recycling of magnesium on the sustainability of its supply chain. Therefore, our study attempts to assist in understanding to what extent functional and non-functional Mg recycling contributes to its sustainable production from an environmental perspective and evaluate dynamic changes through the magnesium supply chain over time in the period 2000-2050. We compare the energy consumption, water use, and related emissions for primary and secondary magnesium based on the production method and geological and geographical features and demonstrate that sustainability can be achieved by improving Mg recycling.

Obtained results show a significant potential contribution of the circularity of magnesium to energy (up to 31 billion GJ) and water (up to 2.7 Km3) savings, as well as the mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (up to 3 billion tonnes CO2 eq), globally. However, the analysis indicates that 87% of secondary magnesium comes from non-functional recycling. The result shows the possible increase of non-functional recycling of magnesium from 612 kt in 2020 to 1 mt in 2050 and the growth of functional recycling of magnesium from 96 kt in 2020 to 161 kt in 2050. The finding highlights the necessity for improving the supply chain policies of Mg through technological developments and operational changes to ensure its sustainable circular economy.

This research has been done with the support of the Viipuri Management Research Lab of LUT University, which provided access to AnyLogic (University 8.5.0) software for simulation modelling.


Magnesium, critical material, circular economy, environmental sustainability, dynamics modelling

Rahimpour Golroudbary,S.,Makarava,I. & Kraslawski, A. (2022). Environmental Assessment of Global Magnesium Production, Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy Review. Science of The Total Environment.