Critical Raw Materials

Discover the first ION4RAW public results

The ION4RAW project is progressing and its first publics results are now available. Discover the “Mapping of by-product potential in mineral deposits” and “Technical note and methodology guide for sampling and sample preparation” conducted by BRGM.

Evaluating by-products potential

The first public results of the project are part of Work Package 2, which is in charge of displaying an extensive and comprehensive evaluation of by-products potential – Bismuth, Germanium, Indium, Cobalt, Platinium and Antomony – in Gold-Silver, Copper and Copper-Gold deposits. Increasing knowledge by compiling data on the by-product’s concentrations and distribution in the EU ores, as well as mapping the location of the potential resources, are indeed keep-points to secure new potential European sources for the critical raw materials supply.

Indeed, reliability of supply in critical raw materials is one of the major challenges facing Europe. The availability of mineral resources is notably crucial for the deployment of low-carbon technologies and economic activities, in a context of climate change and global renewable energy policy, rapid growth of emerging economies as well as fast development of modern technologies that have led to a drastic upsurge in demand for a number of metals.

Mapping of by-products potential in mineral deposits

As ION4RAW aims to develop a new energy-, material- and cost-efficient mineral processing technology to recover by-products from primary sources, one of the first steps has been to produce a geographically-based compilation of the by-product occurrences and potential in Europe, in the form of a “Mapping of by-products potential in mineral deposits” conducted by BRGM. It compiles 1400 identified European occurrences for Cu, Au, Ag and Pb-Zn main commodities. This inventory allows economical assessment of potential resources as well as assessment of metallogenic processes related to these critical raw material endowments.

Figure 1. Distribution of the identified EU occurrences (n = 1400) showing identified ION4RAW targeted by-products classified according to their metallogenic family.

However, due to the heterogeneity of the existing databases and available knowledge on the entire European deposits and occurrences, a predictive assessment was performed for targeted elements, as they are not usually and/or automatically identified and/or (historically) assessed. To do so, the DataBase Querying DBQ approach (developed by the BRGM) was applied to the entire European dataset and allowed the determination of several areas of great interest for the prospection of the targeted by-products of the project. It allows potential identification of commodities, which are either rarely reported in analyses or through divers’ permit/deposit reports by mining companies. These areas can also be studied to identify major mine sites that might be interested in applying the mineral process, which would be developed through the study. For Peru, a compilation has been initiated with partners and offers a great dataset of the sites, which might be of great interested when it comes to the application of the process developed through ION4RAW.

Read the Mapping of by-products potential in mineral deposits >>

A technical note and methodology guide for sampling and sample preparation

Alongside the “Mapping of by-products potential in mineral deposits”, a second deliverable has been produced as part of ION4RAW’s Work Package 2, where the sampling operations of the ores and pre-treatment steps before analysis are notably described.

Five deposits were selected for the project. Indeed, the ION4RAW process has to be tested on different samples as ionometallurgy is mineral specific. A detailed understanding of the mineralogy of the ores is therefore required to determine optimum processing routes for the product and by-product commodities.

The technical note and methodology guide presents the protocol for sampling and sample pre-treatment implemented in WP2 to be representative of the by-products that are naturally scattered in the ore rocks.

For each of the deposits, the report provides a deposit description (geographic, geologic and reserves), a description of the sampling operations for the ION4RAW project, and a pre-treatment chart to detail the sequence of the physical preparation steps required before analytical procedure. Sampling and preparation steps are essential to guarantee a reliable and valid analytical result.

Read the Technical note and methodology guide for sampling and sample preparation >>

Critical Raw Materials

WATCH: Our Mineral Processing Team Process Two Separate Concentrates at the Same Time


Our Mineral Processing Team is currently undertaking work as part of the Ion4Raw project, which is a European Union – Horizon 2020 funded project looking at the cost-effective recovery of by-products from primary sources.

As part of the study, a team in our laboratory in Truro, Cornwall, are processing samples containing both base and precious metals from a variety of sources in order to generate samples of concentrates for further testing using Deep Eutectic Solvent (DES) technology.

This current campaign is looking at the treatment of approximately 2.7 tonnes of polymetallic ore (Cu-Pb-Zn) from a Peruvian mine and involves the recovery of all three metals to recover two separate concentrate; copper + lead and zinc.

“In undertaking this work, we are using our existing pilot testing equipment in combination with various pieces of laboratory equipment which have been repurposed to operate on a continuous basis, specifically for this programme of work.” Says Associate Director, Ben Simpson. “In doing so, this is the first time that we have attempted to process two separate concentrates at the same time using our pilot plant and represents a key development in the capabilities that Wardell Armstrong is able to offer both to our research partners and commercial clients.”

Our expertise, combined with the mineral processing pilot plant facilities, is not commonly available in Europe and Wardell Armstrong is now firmly established as a centre of excellence and in high demand – not only by our current industrial clients but by research consortia across Europe. By participating in these high profile, multi Partner, multi-national research projects we can keep at the forefront of technological advances and remain the Partner of choice for many mining clients.

Watch the process on the video below:

Mineral Processing Technology


We are delighted to announce that we have recently published our first newsletter which was sent out directly to our list of subscribers. We aim to publish our newsletter annually to highlight the latest news and developments during the lifetime of the ION4RAW project. We will also include relevant meetings, publications and also information about the current work of each work package and how you might be able to get involved.

If you would like to receive our newsletter direct to your inbox please sign up to our newsletter clicking the button near the top of many of our pages. We are GDPR-compliant and will not share your information, you are also free to unsubscribe at anytime.


Critical Raw Materials

Our first remote workshop focused on Intellectual Property (IP) & exploitation and was hosted by LGI

We had very positive feedback from our amazing partners from the ION4RAW project thought of our first virtual workshop focused on Intellectual Property (IP) & exploitation. We’re super thankful for their excellent participation. COVID19 forced us to adapt and find news way to work collaboratively, and everyone responded positively to the challenge! We worked very hard to make it a smooth and enjoyable experience for everyone, and we’re glad it paid off!

The ION4RAW project is dedicated to developing a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly mineral processing technology to recover Critical Raw Materials by-products from primary sources.

In H2020 projects (and soon Horizon Europe), the Exploitation work package focuses on setting out a plan to ensure that the project results and their impact are maximised, while managing and protecting the project IP.

Together with 30 partners, our first session started with an hour-long IP webinar during which we introduced the concepts of Exploitation & IP in the context of H2020 projects.

This was first published on the LGI website.

Critical Raw Materials

ION4RAW goes to PDAC 2020: The World’s Premier Mineral Exploration & Mining Convention

“Mining Investment Show”

PDAC 2020: The World’s Premier Mineral Exploration & Mining Convention held from March 1-4 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Canada, marking its 88th year. In addition to bringing together over 1,000+ exhibitors, 2,500+ investors and 25,000+ attendees from 132 countries, it provides mineral and mining professionals, as well as investors, analysts, geologists, executives, government officials and students, access to an array of programming, short courses, presentations and unparalleled networking opportunities.

The four-day annual convention held in Toronto, Canada, has grown in size, stature and influence since it began in 1932 and today is the event of choice for the world’s mineral industry. ION4RAW will be one of the EU H2020 projects that will be showcased at the dedicated EU booth at the convention, we’re very excited to share our project objectives at such a large scale! We’re excited about the interest in EU research!



Critical Raw Materials

ION4RAW clustering event: the green transition challenged by the metal supply chain

On March 12, 2020, ION4RAW along with other EU H2020 projects and other partners team up to organise a seminar on “The Green transition challenged by the metal supply chain”. A high level expert panel will discuss the current challenges in exploitation, processing and recycling of raw materials from different perspectives (coming from the private sector, NGO, academia, research institutions and international organisations). Participants will further enrich the reflection during an interactive debate, and filter out several recommendations towards the EC.

Date: March 12, 2020

Time: 13h30

Where: Flemish Parliament in Brussels.

The event ends with a networking reception. Registration is free of charge but mandatory. More information and details about the programme can be found online. Targeted participants are professionals from different sectors working on the above mentioned and related topics.

Critical Raw Materials

Our 6-month project meeting & General Assembly held in Paris

On the 11 and 12 November 2019, LGI (ION4RAW project partner) hosted the M6 Project Meeting & General Assembly of the ION4RAW project in Paris. During this two-day meeting, partners presented the work they have carried out so far for each of the work packages. During the meeting, achieved milestones were discussed and project partners discussed the plans for the coming period. They also covered the technical aspects of the project. Pertinent questions relating to the exploitation of the results that will be generated in the project were also debated upon.


Sustainable Ionometallurgy

IONRAW ore sampling visit in Peru

Last month, our partners met to advance on the tasks of WP3. Project partners, Werner Warscheid (Cumbres Exploraciones S.A.C) and Chris Broadbent (Wardell Armstrong International Ltd) visited two mines operated by Nexa Resources Peru to obtain bulk samples of ore collected immediately post-primary crushing from El Porvenir e Atacocha mine (Cerro Pasco) in the high Andes (ca. 4,400m asl) and Cerro Lindon Mine at a lower altitude in the foothills of the Andes ca. 200km south east of Lima.

CumbrEx organised with Nexa for 7 tonnes of representative ore from each site to be loaded onto pallets on a flatbed lorry.  Both our representatives were also given unrestricted access to the current mineral processing plants at each site and copies of the current mineral processing flowsheet.  At both sites, a fairly conventional flowsheet comprising crushing-grinding-bulk concentrate production followed by-production of individual concentrates for copper, lead and zinc is used.  Polymetallic (Cu, Pb, Zn) sulphidic ore is mined at both El Porvenir and Cerro Lindon.  At El Porvenir, the tailings are disposed of sub-aqueously in a conventional TMF whereas at Cerro Lindon dry stacked tailings disposal is deployed.

Our sampling team would like to express many thanks to the Nexa Resources Management for their co-operation and allowing access to the two mines as well as donation of ore to the project.

Contributed by:

Critical Raw Materials Raw Materials Sustainable Ionometallurgy

Future supply of raw materials must not repeat the sustainability problems of the past

Raw materials play a fundamental role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but their production and consumption can also have negative impacts.

As our modern economies grow, so does the demand for the raw materials needed to develop technologies for various sectors, including for energy production, transport, strategic industrial sectors and defence.

In many cases, raw materials are fundamental for sustainable development.  For example, they are necessary for the transition to a low-carbon economy, which is at the heart of the European Green Deal foreseen in the political guidelines of for the next European Commission. Moreover, raw materials are required for facilitating a digital economy, and for the defence sector.

The demand for raw materials for such technologies can bring increased autonomy and positive opportunities for communities, including the creation of jobs.

However, if not properly managed, it can also result in negative impacts, such as on the environment, increased pollution, conflicts or use of child labour.

“It is essential to ensure sustainable management of raw materials supply, re-use, and recycling. The transition from fossil fuels to other raw materials must not repeat the same sustainability and security problems that are associated with the fossil-fuels-based model”, explains JRC researcher Lucia Mancini.

Taking a global perspective, a fresh JRC report analyses how the production and consumption of non-energy, non-agricultural raw materials affect or contribute to each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The figure below shows the potential positive and negative impacts of raw materials on the attainment of the SDGs throughout their lifecycle.

©EU 2019

Negative impacts linked to extraction phase

The figures suggests that the potential negative impacts can be mostly concentrated in the extraction phase, particularly in the mining sector.

The risk of negative impacts is generally higher in countries with low levels of governance. This can be avoided through appropriate management of supply and recycling operations, and increased levels of governance.

The report confirms that the forestry sector also has the potential to contribute to several goals through e.g. sustainable forest management practices, or to lead to adverse impacts if sustainable practices are not applied.

“The fossil-fuels-based model has been very unsustainable; the rapid use of non-renewable resources has had many unfortunate environmental and social consequences. Low-carbon technologies are of course one part of the solution, but – if not properly managed – the extraction and production of raw materials to develop and fuel these technologies can have significant negative environmental and social impacts”, Lucia explains.

The report highlights that, while efforts must be made to overcome the adverse effects, trade-offs need to be taken into account, as one aspect of raw materials supply can contribute positively to one goal while negatively impacting another.

Further information


This post was originally published on the EU Science Hub website on October 2, 2019.

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