Mineral Processing Technology

ION4RAW presented at the Reactive Metals Workshop at MIT

Since 2006, a workshop on reactive metals processing, most often called Reactive Metals Workshop, or RMW, has been organized yearly by collaboration between universities in the US, mainly Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and universities in Japan, primarily the Institute of Industrial Science (IIS) at the University of Tokyo. After a break due to the pandemic, many signed up for the first workshop since 2020, the 16th ever RMW, and about 60 participants accepted the invitation to attend and found their way to MIT March 24-25, 2023.

During the two-day workshop, eight invited speakers from universities in Japan, USA, Norway and Iceland took to the floor on subjects like novel type batteries, metal production, processing and recycling. Lively discussions on the subjects continued between all participants after each presentation, in the breaks, and during the poster session. In attendance were mainly researchers, professors and graduate students from the scientific community, while some with an industrial background also attended.

Picture 1. Attendes at RMW16.

main event during RMW is the poster session. During this time, everyone attending is given a chance to contribute to the event by presenting their work. First, everyone is given the opportunity to have a short 3-minute pitch in front of everyone, to present their research and give a reason for continued elaboration and discussion during the active poster session. During the poster session everyone, also the attendees presenting posters, are allowed to walk around and speak to each other regarding the research presented. A total of 18 posters were presented at RMW16.

ION4RAW was presented in the workshop with participation from SINTEF. SINTEF has during the project worked with electrochemical recovery of the targeted metals through electrochemical deposition, and participated with a poster titled: “Electrochemical Recovery of Au and Ag from Ore Deposits using Innovative Deep Eutectic Solvent Ionic Liquids”.

Picture 2. Gøril Jahrsengene(SINTEF) presentation

Picture 3. Gøril (SINTEF) in front of her poster.

The poster covered results regarding electrochemical characterization of the suggested electrochemical systems focusing on targeted elements, Au and Ag, as well Cu and Fe that is also going to be present in the electrolyte in the ION4RAW process. During the 3-minute pitch, SINTEF also showed a picture of a wire completely covered in what visually appeared to be gold, obtained after an experiment using an electrolyte where mine waste had been leached. Ending the pitch with an open question regarding this deposit: “Is it really gold and were we able to recover it electrochemically?”, made sure many of the participants stopped at the poster afterwards, to discuss the results, the ION4RAW process, and general use of DES in metal recovery.

Besides the main event of the poster session, the workshop is viewed as an excellent opportunity to network. Allowing for frequent and informal breaks throughout both days, an evening banquet with pre-drinks networking in the evening, and a lab tour in the MIT labs and buildings (ending in the famous library dome), it was a great opportunity to present the ION4RAW project, results from the electrochemical recovery task, and network on this and possible new projects.

Picture 4. Recovered Au and Ag.

Mineral Processing Technology

TARANTULA Clustering Event: Conclusions on Social License to Operate in the Mining and Life Cycle Assessment Methodologies for (re)processing of low-grade primary and secondary resources

The mining sector is unquestionably crucial for Europe’s economic growth and the development of various industries, including green and digital technologies. However, as emphasised at the end of the event by Prof. Juan Maria Menendez Aguado from University de Oviedo Mining and Minerals Engineering, mining activities are often associated with environmental and social challenges, leading to conflicts with local communities, and potentially jeopardising the Social License to Operate (SLO). Despite Europe’s high environmental standards for raw material production, the harvesting of primary and secondary resources of critical raw materials (CRMs) is imminent and requires regaining the trust of European citizens and policymakers.

Insights and Highlights from the Panel Discussions and Roundtables

On 19 April, the International Centre for Advanced Materials and Raw Materials (ICAMCyl) organised a cluster event on behalf of the TARANTULA EU-funded project which is expected to reach its final stages in November 2023. The workshop brought together mining projects and companies, and included two panel discussions and a round table that highlighted various aspects of SLO methodologies and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in the mining sector. The event took a holistic approach to modern mining processes, providing insights on more than just technical aspects relevant to SLO and LCA. Discussions emphasised the importance of implementing sustainable and responsible mining practices that balance economic, social, and environmental concerns. Additionally, there was emphasis on the importance of engaging with local communities and governments to build trust and support for mining activities.

ION4RAW, represented by Mathilde Legay (LGI), participated in the roundtable discussing how EU-funded projects are tackling the SLO aspect during the development phase, but also in the panel discussion focusing on the LCA methodology and the impact categories, such as climate change, metal depletion, freshwater ecotoxicity and eutrophication, and human toxicity.

The Technological Park of Leon (ESP) hosted the event, which provided an opportune context to share the results of a study conducted within one of ION4RAW’s sister-project’s – BIORECOVER. The study carried out by ENSO and LGI revealed the social perception of the mining sector in Spain, France and Greece and the need to educate people about the importance of mining activities. Despite certain concerns, around 50% of the interviewed participants were in favour of opening more mines in Spain to reduce the global environmental impacts, improve working conditions for miners, and create more job opportunities for various regions. The study was complemented by a detailed presentation of the public awareness campaign run by ION4RAW, which aims to communicate about the use of raw materials in daily life and showcase the essential usage of CRMs in key sectors. LGI initiated an  awareness campaign, including impactful attractive visuals, animated videos, social media cards, followed by quizzes and online contests, which was well-received by the European Commission’s reviewers, but also by the project’s online communities.

During the latter part of the event, ION4RAW presented the initial findings and hypotheses derived from applying the LCA methodology in the project. The focus was on assessing the environmental impact of using Deep Eutectic Solvents (DES) in ION4RAW, with preliminary results indicating that the synthesis of DES and the concentration of additives are associated with the climate change and freshwater ecotoxicity impacts.

The EU projects TARANTULA, ION4RAW, MADITRACE, S34I and PASSENGER presented their findings, which were complemented by  two presentations from leading mining companies in Europe – operating the Penouta Sn, Ta and Nb mine (ESP), respectively the Barruecopardo Mine (ESP). The companies presented key aspects that contribute to a positive SLO, emphasizing the importance of restoring the environment, improving the economic situation of the mining area and the surrounding areas, creating employment opportunities, and providing training to local communities.

The Workshop in Figures

The cluster event organised by the TARANTULA project attracted a diverse range of stakeholders, including research institutions (62%), mining and manufacturing companies (23.81%), consultancy firms (9.52%), and trade unions (4.76%). The event had an audience of nearly 25 participants from different countries, with most attendees being from Spain, followed by Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, and Austria.

In conclusion, the TARANTULA clustering event was a valuable platform for sharing insights and experiences, and it highlighted the essential role of the mining sector in the development of various industries. It is crucial to ensure that mining activities are carried out sustainably and with the support of local communities and the public.

Mineral Processing Technology

Recovering critical raw materials

Minerals such as antimony, germanium, and indium play an integral role in many modern technologies and devices. These critical raw materials are essential components in everything from smartphones to solar panels, and demand for them is only increasing. However, traditional mining and extraction methods can have significant environmental impacts, making it increasingly important to develop sustainable and responsible approaches to raw materials production.

This is where the ION4RAW project comes in. The project is focused on developing new, more sustainable methods to recover critical raw materials and metals from mining sites. Led by coordinator Maria Tripiana, the team is working to identify and optimize environmentally-friendly approaches that minimize waste and reduce the use of harmful chemicals.

Excitingly, the ION4RAW project has just been featured in the latest issue of the EU Research magazine. Readers can learn more about the project’s innovative approach to raw materials production by checking out pages 52, 53, and 80 of the magazine.

Have a look at our piece in the magazine below!

Critical Raw Materials Mining Raw Materials

A look back: ION4RAW’s Participation in the Biorecover Seminar Series

In March 2023, the H2020 BIORECOVER project organized an online seminar series in collaboration with several European projects, including ION4RAW, EIS, AfricaMaVal, and SCRREEN2. The seminars delved into the pressing issue of raw materials and their pivotal role in the global energy transition, which poses significant challenges to our world today.

Europe’s heavy reliance on raw materials for its growth, competitiveness, and transition to a greener economy makes it imperative to establish and maintain sustainable supply chains for raw materials. However, the current scale of unlocking unexploited ore reserves falls short of meeting the demand. Therefore, innovative and transformative strategies are needed to develop environmentally and socially sustainable raw material value chains that align with Europe’s climate, security, and economic ambitions.

The webinar series comprised of three seminars, each addressing a distinct aspect of raw materials sustainability. The first seminar on “Establishing responsible global partnerships” took place on 7th March 2023. It was followed by a second webinar focused on “Improving the sustainability of critical raw materials extraction” on 9th March 2023. Finally, the last webinar on “Researching unexploited European reserves” took place on 15th March 2023. ION4RAW took part in both the second and final webinar which provided a platform for leading experts to share their experiences and insights, shedding light on the opportunities and challenges in developing sustainable raw material value chains.

The ION4RAW project is proud to have been part of this important seminar series and looks forward to continuing collaboration with other projects and stakeholders to drive positive change in the raw materials sector.

Mineral Processing Technology

The Effect of Macroscopic Particle Features on Mineral Dissolution

New publication by ION4RAW authors Chandra Widyananda Winardhi, Jose Ricardo da Assuncao Godinho and Jens Gutzmer (HZDR). Discover the article in detail with a focus on mineral dissolution. 

Mineral dissolution is a dynamic process in which kinetics depend on the reactive surface area, orientation, and geometry of the dissolving mineral grain. Dissolution rate is, thus, not represented by a single value, but rather, by a spectrum that is affected by the reactivity of different types of surface features.

Such dissolution rate spectra are usually obtained by very detailed studies of perfectly cleaved surfaces by atomic force microscopy or in situ studies, such as flow-through experiments. This study visualizes dissolution progress by repeated X-ray computed tomography scans of a single particle. This allows studying the influence of larger particle features, such as corners and edges, at the interception of macroscopic faces of particles, as well as the influence of those macroscopic features on the dissolution rate spectra. As a suitable case study, the dissolution of a monomineralic galena (PbS) particle in ethaline is studied.

The observed changes in particle geometry are evaluated using a newly developed empirical model in order to break down the rate spectra as a function of the particle geometry. Results illustrate that dissolution rates are exponentially correlated with the distance to crystal corners and edges. The reactivity map generated from these exponential relations shows a linear trendline with the dissolution rates over the entire surface of the studied galena particle.

The empirical reactivity map developed here opens the possibility of predicting the dissolution rate of particulate materials based on computed tomography and the optimal geometrical properties of the particles that maximize the dissolution, e.g., size and shape.

Raw Materials

ION4RAW raw materials awareness campaign: RawMaterials4Future Quiz

This year’s Raw Materials Week took place from 14 to 18 November 2022. This week was an opportunity for raw materials related projects to be creative and that is why the SCRREEN project, in collaboration with the ION4RAW, AfricaMaVal, Biorecover and PEACOC projects and the PROMETIA Association created the RawMaterials4Future Quiz to engage with a public that was already familiar with the concept of raw materials. But the quiz was also an opportunity for people without much knowledge of raw materials to learn more about them and their criticallity.

The quiz was launched on 14 November along with social media posts to better engage with the audience.

With over 100 particpants, the first 10 winners were rewarded with Guillaume Pitron’s Rare Metals War: the dark side of clean energy and digital technologies. 

Interested in re-living the experience? Questions from the RawMaterials4Future Quiz are now available on our website. Test your knowledge now!

Mineral Processing Technology

ION4RAW was mentioned in February 2022 Issue of “Mines et Carrières” Following SIM Congress.

Following the SIM Congress of November 2021, an issue of “Mines et Carrières” was released earlier this year named “RÉSILIENCE DE L’INDUSTRIE MINÉRALE APRÈS LA CRISE SANITAIRE” which focuses on the impact the pandemic has had on the mining industry, the weaknesses revealed, and the strengths needed going forward.

This issue indeed stresses the fact that ”The organisation of production and the markets for mineral raw materials have been disrupted by the long pandemic of Covid-19. The price of raw materials was no longer the only decisive factor. The mineral industry has had to look for solutions. Just like the administrations and the various governing bodies, they have adapted and had to learn the lessons of this new “normality”.”

Among the solutions developed, the ION4RAW project and the research it conducts has been mentioned  as a relevant innovative process allowing to extract and recover unexploited small auxiliary metals from ore and mine tailings.

To discover the full article!

Mineral Processing Technology

ION4RAW At the 2022 PDAC Convention

For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, the PDAC 2022 Convention was held in Toronto, Canada and welcomed 17,445 investors, analysts, Indigenous leaders, mining executives, geologists, government officials and students.

This was an opportunity for the ION4RAW project to present its progress and the activities carried out in Europe. Flyers and the second edition of the newsletter were distributed at the European Booth during the event. It was also an opportunity for ION4RAW representatives (BRGM) present on site to answer the questions of curious geologists on the matter of European resources and predictivity activities. Reports available on the ION4RAW website were, for instance, shared.

Using the KAYO device, BRGM was able to show reports and figures from the project. Agnico-Eagle, Element08 (consortium of research on CRM in Quebec), Quebec government as well as Eramet and CGG were very enthusiastic about the work done through specifically the deliverable D2.1 “mapping of by-products potential in mineral deposits”.

To further discover the ION4RAW inventory, check out the full presentation here!

Mineral Processing Technology

ION4RAW Participation in the EWLA2022 – Presentation of the Inventory of by-products and critical raw materials.

From 12-15 July 2022, the University of Bern hosted the 15th edition of the European Workshop on Laser Ablation (EWLA2022) organised in Bern, Switzerland. The event was the occasion to discuss results, novel concepts and developments in laser ablation-based techniques in the context of sustainable by-product and Critical Raw Materials (CRM) recovery as well as to stimulate interaction between academia and industry.

Lectures, talks, workshops, and poster presentations were presented on the following topics:

 Fundamental research:

  • Laser-matter interaction
  • Particle formation and transport phenomena
  • Qualitative and quantitative element and isotope mapping (2D and 3D)
  • Standardisation
  • Isotope ratio analysis
  • Data processing and management
  • Chemical depth profiling
  • Simultaneous tandem and/or multi sensor techniques


  • Earth, Geology, and Planetary Sciences
  • Bio imaging & Life Sciences
  • Archaeology & Cultural Heritage
  • Material Sciences and Industrial Applications

Among the topics presented during the event, Catherine Lerouge, as a member of the ION4RAW project, introduced the “Inventory of by-products and critical raw materials in the El Porvenir Pb-Zn and Cerro Lindo ore deposits: laser ablation ICP-MS and electron microprobe”

The objectives of the inventory are to improve the recovery of by products and CRM during the ore treatment processes, to obtain reliable estimates of by products and CRM and to develop ionometallurgy processes. By supporting and encouraging the recovery of by-product and CRMs, we are able to improve the knowledge of target deposits as well as characterize ores by determining carrier minerals and their distribution.

To further discover the ION4RAW inventory, check out the full presentation here!

Mineral Processing Technology

ION4RAW at the French national network PROMETHEE

Our ION4RAW partner BRGM presented the ION4RAW process to French national experts during the Scientific days of the PROMETHEE network.

The French national network GDR PROMETHEE was created in 2016 in order to structure the French research on the hydrometallurgical processes for a better management of the non-energetic raw material from mining activities and recycling, and more especially low-grade resources. This network gathers 30 laboratories from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and the Bureau of Geological and Mining Research (BRGM), partner of the ION4RAW project.

Scientific days are organized annually by the GdR PROMETHEE, and are open to researchers, engineers, PhD and pos-doctoral students from the academic and industry network, experts in the field of non-energetic raw material management.

This year, our ION4RAW partner BRGM seize the chance of having such a scientific pool of experts to present the ION4RAW project with a presentation « Premiers essais d’évaluation de la disponibilité des éléments traces CRM dans les minerais aurifères et cuprifères européens pour la récupération par ionométallurgie ». The presentation is available online here.

Attendees were interested to learn more on the hydroprocess and know the reagent tested for DES and lixiviation by WP4 but as it is confidential, they were invited to contact the coordinator of the project (Maria Tripiana from Idener) as well as Tecnalia and Sintef for available details and to follow the project newsletter and following publications.

Discussions with external stakeholders will follow this very fruitful event!


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