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Questions & Answers

How can I obtain the LCI data?

To obtain the data, enquirers simply need to complete the Data Request Form. An IMOA representative will review the request, ascertain the intended use of the molybdenum data, and send the inquirer the results or else continue to liaise as necessary.

How will the LCI data help me?

It will enhance the quality of your LCA study. LCA practitioners are always faced with the need for upstream raw material data, and often the biggest limitations of LCA studies pertain to the quality of that data. Using IMOA’s robust industry-average data will enable better, more technologically and temporally representative data on molybdenum products.

Can I use the LCI data to compare molybdenum vs other metals or materials?

No. The results to the LCI studies are not intended to be used to compare one molybdenum intermediate product to another or one molybdenum chemical to another. In fact, one should not compare any material on a per kg or pound basis unless the materials being compared have the exact same performance characteristics and can be replaced on a 1-1 ratio (this is rarely the case). Comparisons are meaningless – and inappropriate – unless proper functionality and performance characteristics are included in the systems compared, such as quantity used and performance in an end product and the useful lifetime of that end product. Alternatives compared also should be reasonable and realistic.

The same goes for stainless steel alloys: one should not compare molybdenum to other alloys such as chromium or nickel because each has a different function.

Why wasn’t Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) included in the studies?

IMOA's remit was to produce robust LCI data sets. LCI is the least subjective part of doing a full LCA since LCIA can be performed using any number of methodologies. The inventory-level results can easily be applied to an LCA model, and the practitioner can apply his/her preferred LCIA methodology, one that meets the goals of the study goals.

In what software were the LCIs modeled? 

GaBi, a commercially-available LCA software tool (more info: https://sphera.com/life-cycle-assessment-lca-software/)

What is the quality of the molybdenum LCI data?

The LCI is methodologically sound and robust, and strenuous efforts were made to ascertain a high level of data quality. There was a broad representation of companies who contributed to the metallurgical and chemical LCIs. Also, data collection for the studies was based on sound methodology by which data were checked and cross-checked, weighted averages were applied, and data issues were addressed through statistics. There are limitations to every LCA study and the user of data should always be aware of these limitations. These are discussed in the summary report. For a copy of the summary report, please complete the online form or download a copy of the form.

Have the studies been externally peer reviewed?

Yes, the current 2018 LCI dataset was externally peer-reviewed.

What does it mean that these are “average” products?

The molybdenum products studied are industry averages, not specific or actual products. Studying an average product enables the inclusion of a span of technologies, material inputs, and emissions to the environment. However, specific characteristics of actual products are lost (i.e., actual product density, molybdenum content, etc.). Thus the resulting average product accounts for components of the whole industry – this is a critical aspect of the goal of the study.

Why is only fully aggregated, average data available to me?

Only the fully-aggregated results are provided to organizations outside of IMOA due to confidentiality of some of the data – specifically, a small number of contributing sites for certain products.

Can I use these LCI results to garner information on one molybdenum facility or process stage?

No, especially since results are provided on a total, aggregated cradle-to-gate basis. LCI and LCA in general are not site-specific, as the normalization of emissions from the system unit processes to one functional unit (e.g., a kilogram of molybdenum in a product) erases all spatial and temporal characteristics, which are needed to assess local/specific environmental impacts. Therefore, the study should not be used to assess local issues associated with the production of molybdenum products. Furthermore, LCI does not take the place of risk assessment, so if information is necessary for such types of assessments, the appropriate data should be collected on a site-specific basis.

Where can I get more information on LCA methodology used by IMOA and other metals associations?

The metallurgical LCI summary and chemical LCI summary reports specify the methodology used for IMOA’s LCIs.  From 2012 to 2014, IMOA participated in an industry wide effort to review current LCA practices and experience, and develop new guidance on how to adopt a more harmonized approach to LCI and LCA methodologies within the metals and minerals industry.  The Guidance document, and accompanying FAQ, published in 2014, covers four areas: system boundaries, co-products, end-of-life recycling, and Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA).  

Are there any guidelines for best practices for performing LCAs of metal-containing products

A harmonization of LCA methodologies exercise was carried out from 2012 to 2014 to provide metals and minerals industry groups, life cycle database providers, and LCA practitioners with the guidance to take a consistent approach to metal LCA studies.  A consistent approach can enable comparisons of results across different studies, help establish credibility for LCA databases, and ensure consistent messaging within the industry.  The Guidance document  and accompanying FAQ, published in 2014, covers four areas: system boundaries, co-products, end-of-life recycling, and Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA).  The International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM), of which IMOA is a member, provides information on the harmonization exercise in addition to other life cycle management tools for materials and products as part of its materials stewardship toolkit.

How can I get more information?

For more information on the studies, you may contact the IMOA representative handling LCI data requests at:

LCA links and references