Skip to main content
Λογότυπος της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής
Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

BioMOre: An Alternative Mining Concept - Raw Materials Commitment

Objectives of the commitment

Mineral resources potential at depth (>1km) is large in Europe as shown by current research (ProMine) but new methods are need for recovering them in an economic and environmentally acceptable manner. BioMOre objectives are to develop new technological concepts for in situ recovering metals from deep deposits using controlled stimulation of pre-existing fractures in combination with in-situ bioleaching. Stimulation is a standard technology for recovering water and geothermal energy. An innovative technology for deep metal recovery will be developed like in geothermal mining. Bacterial assisted in-situ recovery, an established technology for recovering metals from low grade ores, tailing and polluted soils, has progressed over the past 10 years, and will be optimized for deep mining conditions. The environmental security of the test sites will be guaranteed by the appropriate technical preparation. Sustainability indicators based on regulatory requirements of the European Commission will be applied for feasibility considerations.

Description of the activities

The program will comprise two main phases.
Phase I (program 2015-2018): An underground pilot test pilot well will be operated in order to allow the stimulation of natural fractures at depth. Risk assessment and mitigation, as well as safety measures, will form a major part of the project in order to guarantee environmental security. A methodology for quantifying the risks will be developed together with monitoring procedures. Major efforts will focus on advanced monitoring and water processing technologies in order to limit or avoid any risks in the operational area, as well as reducing the volumes of water involved in the process. Metals which will form the primary target of this technology including Cu, Zn, Ni, Pb, and Co, but additional research will be carried out on bacteria and inoculants in order to address the recovery of Mo, Re, REE, and precious metals. High frequency pulsed electromagnetic fields will be tested to enhance the in situ dissolution of metals in ore bearing horizons, as a pre-bacterial leaching step. Metal recovery from brines will be achieved using bacterial processing, with the inoculants adjusted to the individual composition of the brine. The optimal inoculants will be determined by lab investigations. Hydrometallurgical methods for metal separation from the brine with the ore horizon or on surface will be tested and evaluated and a choice made for optimal metal recovery, including selective precipitation by bacterial or physical/chemical separation techniques. A proposed test site will be selected from the copper bearing Kupferschiefer formations. This site contains a number of natural impermeable geological barriers (clay and salt layers) which will prevent leakage of metalliferous brines into the groundwater. Technical site preparation by applying new encapsulation technologies will provide further pre-conditions for ecological (green) production.
This first phase will be used to identify a possible target to establish a pilot site (Phase II) where wells will be drilled from the surface to access the ore body and perform the in-situ bioleaching process.
The program will be structured around eight working packages including: WP1 - Biotechnology, optimizing bio-leaching chemistry and stimulating processes – leader Bangor Unv. (UK), WP2 - Site selection, monitoring, risk assessment, 3&4D modeling, geophysical & geological data integration – leader GEOS. (D), WP3 - Reactor design, well design, exploration, core drilling and sampling injection well stimulation – leader KGHM (PL); WP4: Metal production, hydrometallury aspects – leader : HATCH (UK); WP5: Environmental impact and sustainability assessment, site closure, in situ safe-guarding, green mining – Leader: Kemakta (S); WP6: Exploitation, dissemination, training & education, promoting, public relations , result exploitation - Leader: DMT (D); WP7: Pre-feasibility study, economic evaluation, next step for pilot plant - Leader: UIT (D); WP8: Management Leader: MIRO (UK).
Phase II: a pilot site will established from the surface. This second phase will be proposed as a demonstrative project in the future call 2018.

Description of the expected impacts

Turn into accessible commodities mineralizations at depths greater than 1km normally not accessible by standard mining practice. Avoid huge amount of in-situ mining wastes, tailings, and dirty ponds reducing the environmental impacts and improving chances for public acceptance. Possibility to extract metals such as Cu, Zn, Ni, Co by circulating solutions at depth. Decrease costs of extraction by lowering infrastructure investments. Develop solution mining socially more acceptable by the public. Phase II: a multi well pilot project will be conceived and designed according to results obtained in phase I. This pilot will aim at recovering metals from the surface using multi drills in which recovering bioleaching fluids will be circulated. This second phase II will be proposed as a demonstrative project in the future call 2018. In demonstrative, this new in-situ bioleaching technology is expected to decrease the number of workers accidents in the mining industry compared to traditional underground mining.

Coordinating organisation & role

Name of the coordinating organisation: Mineral Industry Research Organisation - MIROCountry: United KingdomEntity profile: Private sector - SMERole within the commitment:

WP8: Project management (administrative and technical); WP8: Management of dissemination and exploitation, promotion and PR issues, probably leading WP8; WP5: Contributing to all assessment activities, sustainability and green mining aspects; WP2: Contributing to risk assessment

Other partners

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V.

Name of the organisation: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V. Country: Germany Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: Fraunhofer will lead the CFRP and GFRP recycling research.
Fraunhofer will perform corrosion tests on the developed materials.
Fraunhofer will work with CIDAUT on the implementation, validation and refinement of LCCA tools for the project. Fraunhofer is the Quality Manager of the Consortium and will oversee deliverables and general reporting are produced with the best possible quality following agreed review standards.

Fundacion Cidaut

Name of the organisation: Fundacion Cidaut Country: Spain Entity profile:
Role within the commitment: CIDAUT will lead the research activities on materials recycling and compounding, implementing lab scale demonstrators of each process at its premises and, later, supporting end-users upscale the processes.
CIDAUT will perform mechanical tests, microstructural analyses, injection moulding capability studies on the developed materails, and will work with Fraunhofer on the implementation, validation and refinement of LCCA tools for the project.

RWTH Aachen University (Institute of plastic processing (IKV)

Name of the organisation: RWTH Aachen University (Institute of plastic processing (IKV) Country: Germany Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: RWTH will implement the novel 3D Generative Preforming process (3D Fibre Spraying) that enables to create high-value long fibre-reinforced 3D preforms for thermoplastic and thermoset composites at low process costs (different kinds of yarn as a raw material, low tooling costs due to low cavity pressures). This cost effective technology allows to align the sprayed fibres in order to produce high-performance, engineered anisotropic products.

Universita' di Cagliari

Name of the organisation: Universita' di Cagliari Country: Italy Entity profile:
Role within the commitment: University of Cagliari is one of the leading European organization in the resin design and coupling with thermoplastic and thermose materials. University of Cagliari will support in the definition of the composite materials, both from CFRP/GFRP, ABS and Rare Earth composite material.

Relight

Name of the organisation: Relight Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: RELIGHT will work with ITRB to provide the research partners with residues for the recycled ABS supply and the REE recovery processes, including their HydroWEEE process as part of the processes to be studied and analyzed.

Piaggio Aerospace

Name of the organisation: Piaggio Aerospace Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - large company
Role within the commitment: Piaggio Aerospace is one of the project End Users (Aeronautics Industry): as such it will provide requirements and further applications that could be developed with the Consortium Materials. Piaggio will assist in the compounds selection, provide Fraunhofer with specific corrosion requirements on business jet size aircraft, and will assess that the developed materials performance fits the selected applications desired improvements.

Blackshape Aircrafts

Name of the organisation: Blackshape Aircrafts Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: Blackshape Aircrafts is one of the project End Users (Aeronautics Industry): as such it will provide requirements and further applications that could be developed with the Consortium Materials. Blackshape will support to fulfill the requirements of the aeronautics industry on ultra light jet, light jet and trainer for Syllabus, and will assess that the developed alloys performance fits the selected applications desired improvements.

KU Leuven

Name of the organisation: KU Leuven Country: Belgium Entity profile: Academia
Role within the commitment: KUL will collaborate on the balance problem studies and will lead the rare earth recovery research with the solvometallurgical and ionometallurgical processes.
KUL will also contribute to the final compounding selection.
KUL is the Dissemination Manager of the project, promoting that all partners are active on the project Dissemination.

FIDAMC

Name of the organisation: FIDAMC Country: Spain Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: FIDAMC is going to lead the Work Package on Compression Moulding with CFRP-enhanced materials. As part of the AIRBUS Group, FIDAMC will also be able to provide the input material.
FIDAMC successfully developed a 3D Printer of own design to serve the Aerospace Industry and will be supporting Smart Lab 3D Industries in its 3D printer design.

COMPOSITE INNOVATION CENTER

Name of the organisation: COMPOSITE INNOVATION CENTER Country: Canada Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: Composite Innovation Center is one of the world leading organization in the field of Composite materials, both from carbon fiber and vegetal-based fibers.
Composite Innovation center has successfully implemented, at lab-scale, recycling processes for CFRP and GFRP.

Existing EU Contribution: No

Period to implement the commitment: from 01-01-2015 to 31-12-2018