PUMA: Prospecting the Urban Mines of Amsterdam

Featured image

exploring Amsterdam's 'urban mine'

Conclusion & results

Overall, most assumption were found to remain valid, although the validity of some assumptions could not be indicated, specifically due to the lack of access to roof spaces. However, five assumptions were found to be in need of revision, these are briefly listed in this chapter together with associated revision recommendations.

1. Buildings before 1900 were found to not include steel in the load-bearing

Construction year data from the BAG register is available, which could provide
an indication of the metal content of the load bearing structure. Inclusion of the
construction year in the dataset, combined with a with a lower steel score for
buildings built before 1900, should be considered.

2. Apartments smaller than 75m2 were found not to have a separate toilet and
bathroom, instead the toilet was present in the bathroom

The assumed amenities of the 55 - 75m2 standard apartment could be changed to
one kitchen and a bathroom with toilet. The impact on the metal content should
be researched and adapted when change is found to be significant.

3. Recently completed buildings were found not to be included in the database
It should be ensured that the database is kept up to date in order to account for
these recently completed building.

4. Some buildings with a non-residential function were found to (temporarily)
accommodate a residential function

To account for all residential buildings, a clear distinction needs to be made
between the residential function and use of the building. Although the currently
used BAG function distinction might very well be adequate, research on the
relevance of including buildings used for residential purposes, but with other
functions according to the BAG register is recommended. This research should
account for the metal concentration in these buildings versus the amount of
these buildings in Amsterdam.

5. Some buildings were found to use electric cooking appliances rather than gas
The absence of gas connections in the kitchen is likely to lower the copper content
of the building. Because policy objectives increasingly aim to disconnect from
the gas infrastructure (ECN, 2016), it is recommended to research its impact on
the amount of copper in buildings to be able to accurately estimate the copper
content in the future.

Download the publication.

Go to the projectsite.


Leiden University, Institute of Environmental Sciences: Ester van der Voet, Ruben Huele

Waag Society: Job Spierings, Ruben Huele

AMS Institute / Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment: Ellen van Bueren, Alexander Koutamanis, Boukje van Reijn

Metabolic: Anna Krotova

Industrial Ecology students: Luuk Gremmen, Sho Lin

Project leader / contact:

Ruben Huele, <a>urbmines@xs4all.nl</a>

What is the goal of the project?

PUMA is a project from the AMS research programme which focuses on exploring Amsterdam's 'urban mine'. The concept of 'urban mining' has not been clearly defined up to now. It is even less clear what an urban mining system should look like. Which factors are important and what roles can they play in an urban mining system? What incentives are there for setting up such a system? What obstacles will be encountered and how can they be removed? How these choices are made also depends on whether we regard urban mining as a local initiative or something that has to be tackled at a higher scale, in other words at national, European or even global level. It is also important whether we believe that governments should be responsible or that this is primarily a task for companies. The PUMA consortium consists of researchers from Leiden University, Delft University of Technology, the Waag Society and Metabolic that is carrying out research into this.

What is the result of the project?

The project was running from 14 January 2016 to 31 December 2016 and involves the development of a geological map of Amsterdam showing the presence and availability of certain metals (iron, copper and aluminium), with a focus on the built environment. A second goal is to explore the possibilities for extracting the metals from this urban mine.

Who initiated the project and which organizations are involved?

The project is a joint research of TU Delft, Waag Society, CML Leiden University, and Metabolic.

What is the next step?

The researchers intend to take this idea further in other, larger projects, funded for example by the EU Horizon 2020 program or the KIC Raw Materials.