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SURO - The urban underground as mine? Potential of secondary resources in subsurface infrastructure systems

Feasibility of a resource cadaster to inventorize, characterize and locate material stocks in subsurface infrastructure networks. The results are used for the economic assessment of secondary resource potentials.

Short Description




Starting point / motivation

An economical and ecological oriented economy is based on both, the careful use of primary and secondary materials.

The European Commission released the "Raw Materials Initiative" and found that the potential of secondary raw materials is not utilized to its full extend. The assessment of economic minability of secondary resource deposits requires the systematic exploration of anthropogenic material stocks.

Recoverable materials are hibernating in long term assets such as buildings and infrastructure systems. Present studies found 20% of hibernating copper stocks in Swedish supply and disposal networks. These stocks pose a recoverable resource potential.

In Austria, data about recoverability and hibernating stocks are missing. Consequently, fundamental knowledge prevents the assessment of economic minability of underground resources.

Contents and goals

The goal is to assess, if the mapping of resources in supply and disposal networks (electricity, telecommunication, drinking water, waste water, gas, district heating and cooling) is feasible with acceptable efforts.


To achieve this goal, we propose three steps:

  • Developing a data driven statement of requirement for mapping resources.
  • Data exploration in Austrian city regions.
  • Comparing, analyzing and evaluating the statement of requirement and the explored data in view of mapping resource potentials.

Expected results

The core result shows if mapping of resources in supply and disposal networks is feasible, or not. It shows if a resource map can be created for certain cities, because of data availability. If it is feasible, we present a method including relevant data sources. If it is not feasible, we present data gaps and methods to overcome these gaps. Hence, following results are obtained:

  • Structured overview including data requirements for mapping resources and the actual data sources and contents regarding supply and disposal networks in Austrian cities.
  • Requirements in order to increase the resource efficiency of supply and disposal networks.
  • Future R&D activities to develop further the research field of "urban mining".

Project Partners

Project management

Vienna University of Technology
Institute for Water Quality, Resource and Waste Management
O.Univ.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.rer.nat. Paul H. Brunner

Contact Address

Vienna University of Technology
Institute for Water Quality, Resource and Waste Management
Ulrich Kral, MSc PhD
Karlsplatz 13/226
A-1040 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (1) 58801 226-55
Fax: +43 (1) 58801 9 226-55

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