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Volume 7, 21-40, November 2003
ISSN 1438-7890
African Journal of Environmental Assessment and Management
Revue africaine de gestion et d’évaluation environnementales

The Contemporary African Zinc Cycle: 

One Year Stocks and Flows


Dick van Beers, Marlen Bertram, Kensuke Fuse, Sabrina Spatari, and Thomas Graedel


Material Flow Accounting (MFA) provides a framework to address resource management and estimate gross environmental impacts, both spatially and temporally. In this paper, the major flows over the entire life-cycle of zinc are examined for the African continent for the mid-1990s; these include production, fabrication and manufacturing of semi- and finished products, use, and the waste management system. According to the zinc flow model developed in this paper, approximately 236 Gg zinc (236 000 metric tons) was mined annually in Africa. The total flow of zinc in finished products entering use exceeds the zinc flow in discarded products by large amounts. This difference, approximately 0.17 kg Zn/(capita.yr) on average, is added to the in-use reservoir, largely for galvanising applications in domestic construction. Up to 55% of all discarded zinc (excluding mining waste) is recycled.  Much of the remaining discarded zinc is diluted into other waste streams, where recovery and recycling are probably not economically feasible.

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