DISCOVER ION4RAW

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Objective

Aware of the importance to ensure long-term availability of mineral resources but conscious about the high risks of supply disruption in Europe, IONRAW proposes an innovative, clean and sustainable solution: the recovery of mineral by-products from primary sources. In ION4RAW, the minerals by-products considered are minerals present in waste mineral deposits, thus being the by-products of primary extracted minerals.
Indeed, there is still untapped potential to extract strategic raw materials from mining waste and landfills in Europe. Extracting these materials has the potential to enhance the sustainability of mining activities in the EU, as well as contributing to a more circular economy.
In line with the “Resource Efficient Europe” objective of the EU Industrial Policy 2020, ION4RAW deploys an environmentally benign solution for a more sustainable use of raw materials.

How will ION4RAW unlock the full potential of mineral by-products from primary sources?

The ION4RAW process is an ambitious initiative that results from the integration of different disciplines, namely: Mineralogy, Metallurgy, Electrochemistry, Mathematical & modelling optimisation, Sustainable assessment methodology, and Process & Chemical engineering.

Below are the different steps that the ION4RAW process encompasses:

1

IDENTIFICATION & ASSESSEMENT

2

LAB-SCALE DEVELOPMENT

3

PROCESS OPTIMISATION

4

PROCESS VALIDATION

5

SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENT

STEP 1

A COMPREHENSIVE BY-PRODUCT POTENTIAL IDENTIFICATION AND ASSESSMENT

In order to estimate the potential for the by-product recovery in Europe, a mapping of by-products in the EU is being produced within ION4RAW. The research includes information on existing but currently unexploited by-product resources in Europe, as well as characterisation and measurement of the by-products’ contents in the selected primary ores.

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STEP 2

A LAB-SCALE DEVELOPMENT OF AN INNOVATIVE IONOMETALLURGICAL PROCESS

The ION4RAW ionometallurgical process is meant to maximise the recovery of metal by-products from primary sources. It also targets the recovery of by products that cannot be recovered with current technologies.

To do so, the ION4RAW innovative process combines two methods: the use of innovative, environmentally benign and biodegradable Deep Eutectic Solvents (DES) processed together with an advanced electrochemical method for metal recovery.

STEP 3

THE OPTIMISATION OF THE OVERALL ION4RAW PROCESS

To optimise the process and obtain the best compromise solution accounting for productivity, resource and cost efficiency, and environmental impact, our team will apply the comprehensive Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) approach.
The final solution is expect to improve the initially designed solution by 25%!

STEP 4

THE PROCESS DEMONSTRATION AND VALIDATION USING REAL SAMPLES

The prototype will be tested in TECNALIA facilities to test the process performances and quality in relevant environments. Real samples provided by Scotgold resources , Cumbres Exploraciones and Cobre las Cruces will be used.
TRL5 is the expected Technology Readiness level of ION4RAW process!

STEP 5

THE ASSESSMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL, ECONOMIC AND TECHNICAL SUSTAINABILITY

The ION4RAW process environmental impact will be compared with conventional by-products recovery routes. Emissions, energy and resource intensity will be analysed by means of a Life Cycle Assessment.

A comprehensive market analysis will be carried out, as well as a technical feasibility study. As a result, an exploitation plan assessing the market potentials, the business model, the financial projections and the commercialisation roadmaps will be developed.

What minerals is ION4RAW targeting?

The ION4RAW process focusses on the by-products elements that are valuable CRMs or could soon become CRMs and can be found in ores that can be solubilised in DES (sulfidic ores).

Thus, the 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 as bismuth (Bi), germanium (Ge), indium (In), cobalt (Co), platinum (Pt) and antimony (Sb). Accompanying major product metals, e.g. copper (Cu), silver (Ag) and gold (Au), may also be recovered by the ION4RAW process.

Why should you be interested in ION4RAW ?

  • Mining companies
  • Authorities and policy makers
  • Research & academic scientific community
  • Citizens
  • End product manufacturers

Mining companies

ION4RAW allows mining companies to fully exploit by-product potential by recovering such by-products at their own facilities.

Authorities and policy makers

ION4RAW secures EU’s sustainable access to raw materials. By increasing by-products metal availability for EU, it reduces EU dependency on imports and strengthen EU competitiveness while minimising the environmental impact of mineral processing operations.

Research & academic scientific community

ION4RAW will advance research on Ionometallurgy process using Deep Eutectic Solvent (DES) ionic liquids and advanced electrochemical methods as an only step. ION4RAW also advances knowledge on raw materials’ availability in Europe.

Citizens

The long-term availability of mineral resources is essential to maintain our modern life. More details about the importance of minerals here.

End product manufacturers

ION4RAW process will reduce supply risk of raw materials recovered as by-products from primary sources and thus improve the market price stability.

Objectives