The X-MINE project supports better resource characterization and estimation as well as more efficient ore extraction in existing mine operations, making the mining of smaller and complex deposits economically feasible and increasing potential European mineral resources (specifically in the context of critical raw materials) without generating adverse environmental impact. The project will implement large-scale demonstrators of novel sensing technologies improving the efficiency and sustainability of mining operations based on X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), X-Ray Transmission (XRT) technologies, 3D vision and their integration with mineral sorting equipment and mine planning software systems. The project will deploy these technologies in 4 existing mining operations in Sweden, Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus. The sites have been chosen to illustrate different sizes (from small-scale to large-scale) and different target minerals (zinc-lead-silver-gold, copper-gold, gold) including the presence of associated critical metals such as indium, gallium, germanium, platinum group metals and rare earth elements. The pilots will be evaluated in the context of scientific, technical, socio-economic, lifecycle, health and safety performances. The sensing technologies developed in the project will improve exploration and extraction efficiency, resulting in less blasting required for mining. The technologies will also enable more efficient and automated mineral-selectivity at extraction stage, improving ore pre-concentration options and resulting in lower use of energy, water, chemicals and men hours (worker exposure) during downstream processing. The consortium includes 6 industrial suppliers, 4 research/academic organizations, 4 mining companies and 1 mining association. The project has a duration of 51 months and a requested EC contribution of €9.3M.
METGROW+ will address and solve bottlenecks in the European raw materials supply by developing innovative metallurgical technologies for unlocking the use of potential domestic raw materials. The METGROW+ consortium has received an EIP RM Commitment status. The consortium is supported by internationally respected research institutes and universities. Many of the partners (9) are members of EIT KIC Raw Materials consortium as well. The value chain and business models for metal recovery from low grade ores and wastes are carefully looked after. Within this project, both primary and secondary materials are studied as potential metal resources. Economically important nickel-cobalt deposits and low grade polymetallic wastes, iron containing sludges (goethite, jarosite etc.) which are currently not yet being exploited due to technical bottlenecks, are in focus. Concurrently, METGROW+ targets innovative hydrometallurgical processes to extract important metals including Ni, Cu, Zn, Co, In, Ga, Ge from low grade ores in a cost-effective way. In addition a toolbox for metallurgical system is created in the project using new methods and combinations. The unused potential of metal containing fine grained industrial residues are evaluated, while hybrid and flexible hydrometallurgical processes and treatment methods of fines are developed for both materials. Training and education of new professionals are facilitated within the METGROW+ project. The knowledge of raw materials and sustainable technologies will attract new talents in the field who can flexibly change fields from treatment of secondary to primary resources, which also smoothens the economic ups and downs in the primary sector.
Europe’s industry and economy depend on a secure access to many commodities. In 2020, the EC updated its list of critical non-energy non-agricultural raw materials (CRMs), based on scarcity of supply and importance to EU industry. Today, the list includes: Antimony, Fluorspar, Magnesium, Silicon Metal, Baryte, Gallium, Natural Graphite, Tantalum, Bauxite, Germanium, Natural Rubber, Titanium, Beryllium, Hafnium, Niobium, Vanadium, Bismuth, HREEs, PGMs, Tungsten, Borates, Indium, Phosphate rock, Strontium, Cobalt, Lithium, Phosphorus, Coking Coal, LREEs, Scandium. Securing sustainable access to CRM, is of high importance for the EU economy. However, the EU is confronted with a number of technological and environmental challenges along the entire production value chain of primary and secondary raw materials. NetHelix demonstrates in real life settings a toolbox of new technologies for automating and streamlining the extraction process, taking advantage of deposits through mining and waste deposits processing methods, maximising efficiency, reducing waste production, and increasing environmental and huma health and safety.