WEIGHTING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT INDICATORS (SDIS) FOR SURFACE MINING OPERATIONS USING THE ANALYTICAL HIERARCHY PROCESS (AHP)
Current multi-criteria decision-making methods (MCDM) present valid alternatives for weighting the various criteria while allowing for the participation of different stakeholders. Among those, the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) structures the decision problem in a manner that is easy for the stakeholders to comprehend and allows them to analyze independent sub-problems by structuring the problem in a hierarchy and using pairwise comparisons. This paper presents the application of the Analytical Hierarchy Process to weight the different criteria to measure the sustainability of surface mining operations. Prior to the application of the AHP method, the various criteria were preselected using a preliminary selection method consisting of the identification of criteria from six different sources: governmental regulations; committees and organizations for standardization; management and processes best practices; academically- and scientifically-authored resources; local, regional, national, and international organizations; and industry sector standards and programs. Criteria with different common sources of origin, as well as discretionary project and stakeholder relevance were chosen for the preselected list. The different social, economic, and environmental criteria were classified in ten different areas of excellence to facilitate the application of the weighting method. Therefore, each criterion’s final weight is impacted by the criterion’s weight itself and the area of excellence’s weight obtained in the application of the AHP method. The results of the weighting process assist scientists and practitioners by not only identifying those criteria that stakeholders consider relevant in the sustainability assessment process, but also by expressing the degree to which the criteria should be addressed in order to accomplish the project’s and/or organization’s sustainability goals.