Skip to main content
Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Creation of a European research network on ore processing and extractive metallurgy

Objectives of the commitment

1. Develop innovative technological solutions to optimize raw materials & waste treatment: Accessing strategic materials is critical. So it is of paramount importance to extend the knowledge base in processing and extractive metallurgy to optimize the transformation of ore or waste stream into valuable materials
2. Enhance EU skills in mineral processing and extractive metallurgy of ores and industrial residues: Industrial companies cannot afford employing all the specialists required to support their activities. But they need these specialists to exist in Europe and they need to know where to find them. EuROPEM will provide access to these specialists.
3. In the longer term, boost the innovation capacity of the EU raw materials related sectors.
By training a new generation of skilled engineers and metallurgists, the network will contribute to expand the future European innovation potential.

Description of the activities

Since the mid-2000s, numerous European Countries, and the European Union itself, have realized how dependent they have been on foreign imports to access non energetic raw materials. This dependence has been interpreted as a threat to Europe’s industrial network and global competitiveness. In parallel, it has also been recognized that Europe holds valuable mineral resources in both primary and secondary markets. Sources of such minerals being either underground or in our trash boxes create new market opportunities that will support much needed economic growth in Europe.
However, to size this opportunity, the development of new extractive, mineral processing and metallurgical techniques are required. Before being industrially developed, these techniques need not only to be efficient but also to take into account the economics and the environmental and societal aspects in Europe and abroad. Techniques fulfilling these requirements will first generate new IP in Europe and also allow new types of natural deposits and industrial residues to be mined, creating subsequently more wealth in Europe.
Innovation bases on strong R&D knowledge and capabilities. It is essential to enable Europe to regain its former leading position in these domains by mobilizing and networking substantial part of the European raw materials community. In addition, having good ideas is not enough to generate innovation. Helping the best ideas to reach the market by enabling them to progress on the TRL scale is critical to leverage the effect of public support in R&D and create more jobs.
In this context, numerous networks have emerged in Europe, dealing, at least partly, with the issue of mineralurgy and extractive metallurgy (e.g. the Era-net on non-energetic raw materials ERAMIN or the REE focused network ERECON). Nevertheless, there is still a lack in Europe of a structure bridging closely research and innovation of the primary and secondary raw materials value chain and business models that allow cross fertilization of ideas and successful demonstration up to the pilot scale.
The EuROPEM Network fills this gap by gathering academic and industrial partners. It aims at coordinating and financially supporting R&D works on transversal issues in the fields of mineralurgy and extractive metallurgy. The annual funding of the network will originate from fees of the members and EU as well as national support (depending on the opportunities).
- Supporting pre-competitive R&D works
Pre-competitive R&D works on issues of interest for the industrial partners gathered in the End-Users Group will be financially supported by the Network through grants to buy small equipement or finance non-permanent co-workers together with associated expenditures, within academic institutions. When promising, scale-up will be possible with industrial funding.
- Facilitating the emergence of promising collaborative projects
By providing a broad forum for academic and industrial partners to exchange on mineralurgy and extractive metallurgy, this network will be a place to find the right partners to build consortia able to provide a holistic approach to raw material questions.
- Enabling innovation
One trump card of this network is its capacity to support the further development of promising processes up to the pilot scale through facilitated access to the existing piloting platforms, which will be gathered into a platform network (see the MetNet RM-Commitment. EuROPEM will be closely linked to the European Institute of Hydrometallurgy (to be built from 2014 to 2017, see the EIH RM-Commitment).

Description of the expected impacts

The successful creation of this mineralurgical and metallurgical research network would result in:
- Reinforcing the position of European industries on their traditional markets because even raw material production has turned from labour-intensive to knowledge intensive. But also allowing them to access new markets (like the recycling of high tech-products)
- Facilitate technology transfer from academia to industry by reinforcing synergism between these major stakeholders of innovation
- Cross fertilisation between extractive metallurgy and other important fields of activity in Europe. For exemple metallurgy may befenit to chemistry (for example for natural substances extraction) or medicine (e.g. fast diagnostics). But cross fertilisation also works the other way round, for example new modelling tool facilitating operation in metallurgical plants and new business models issuing from other sectors may be implemented in processing plants.
- More young people coming back to science and technology to support the position of Europe as the world leading region in knowledge economy
- Better exchange of knowledge and good practices via bridges being built with scientific communities in Northern and Southern America, Australia, but also developing countries

Coordinating organisation & role

Name of the coordinating organisation: CEACountry: FranceEntity profile: Governmental/public bodyRole within the commitment:

CEA will coordinate the network and act as the secretariat of the network.
It includes among others the creation of the different bodies, the coordination of the actions of the network, the identification of financing opportunity, the dissemination, the communication and the education & training actions.
CEA will also be involved in the R&D projects issuing from the network

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.


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.


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.


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 31-12-2019