Issues and needs
The long-term availability of mineral resources is crucial in underpinning human society, technological and economic activity, and managing anthropogenic environmental impacts. When a metal is obtained largely or completely as a by-product, its production is often unable to respond quickly to rapid changes in consumption trends and, as a result, its price can fluctuate widely.
Moreover, for many by-products, there are no reliable estimates of ore reserves or cost-effective technologies to recover them without affecting major commodity production. Hence, to secure supply, there is a need to identify and develop indigenous resources.
Location of most favorable areas for epithermal deposits in Europe with higher statistical potential to have enrichment in Sb, Bi, Te, Ge, Se and In (kernel density map).
© BRGM - Blandine Gourcerol
The main objective of Ion4Raw project is to develop a novel and sustainable ionometallurgical process to resource- and cost-effectively recovery of mainly by-products from primary sources (and the main metal in the ore), i.e ores and concentrates following a complete value chain.
This process is based on the use of innovative, environmentally benign and biodegradable Deep Eutectic Solvents (DES) and an advance electrochemical process for metal recovery as an only step.
Targeted metals to be recovered as by-products are within Cu-Ag-Au group: tellurium (Te), selenium (Se), rhenium (Re), and molybdenum (Mo), as well as Critical Raw Materials such as bismuth (Bi), germanium (Ge), indium (In), cobalt (Co), platinum (Pt) and antimony (Sb). Concerning the major metals in the primary sources (gold (Au), silver (Ag), and copper (Cu)), they could be recovered as well.
The process development will be supported by the mapping and assessment of by-product potential in Europe. The achievements will lead to a significant increase in by-product metal availability for EU, thus reducing EU dependency on imports and strengthening EU competitiveness, while minimising the environmental impact of mineral processing operations with respect to conventional hydro- and pyro- routes.
BRGM is leader of a workpackage “By-products potential evaluation” whose main objectives are:
- To compile geological and previous historical analytical data on the selected ore deposits that will be tested for by-products recovery processing during Ion4Raw project
- To sample of primary ores and proceed to sample preparation necessary for the characterization study
- To measure the by-products contents in the selected primary ores and identify the by-products bearing mineral species in the studied primary ores
- To assess the by-product endowment and metallurgical availability
The first two reports written by BRGM are available on the project website:
Example of the Cononish gold mine, Scotland
Picture of the Cononish site in Scotland and stockpile sampled.
© Cris Sangster - Scotgold resources LTD
Cononish ore in Scotland : blocks of quartz vein in metasedimentary and metabasic rocks.
© BRGM - Isabelle Duhamel-Achin
- IDENER : OPTIMIZACION ORIENTADA A LA SOSTENIBILIDAD SL (ES)
- BUREAU DE RECHERCHES GEOLOGIQUES ET MINIERES (FR)
- Scotgold Resources (UK)
- Cumbres Exploraciones S.A.C. (PE)
- WARDELL ARMSTRONG LLP (UK)
- FUNDACION TECNALIA RESEARCH & INNOVATION (ES)
- SINTEF AS (NO)
- TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET BERGAKADEMIE FREIBERG (DE)
- HELMHOLTZ-ZENTRUM DRESDEN-ROSSENDORF EV (DE)
- L'UREDERRA, FUNDACION PARA EL DESARROLLO TECNOLOGICO Y SOCIAL (ES)
- LGI CONSULTING SARL (FR)
- RINA CONSULTING - CENTRO SVILUPPO MATERIALI SPA (Italy)
- PNO INNOVATION (BE)