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European Pilot Plant Network for Extractive Metallurgy and Mineral Processing

Objectives of the commitment

1. To create an independent and collaborative network to provide services & facilities for up-scaling of metallurgical and mineral processes in Europe.
Pooling expertise of existing up-scaling facilities in Europe to create an easy-access holistic pilot-plant facility network for mineral processing and metallurgical treatment that will enable ideas and research to come into industrial use faster.
2. Securing competence for European industry in metallurgy and mineral processing.
Strengthening competences by providing access to industrial environment for graduates, post-graduates, other academics and technical staff from industry for practical training to convert theoretical knowledge into practice.
3. Boost innovation and job creation.
Initiating joint cross-sectorial projects for innovative metallurgy and mineral processing and acting as an independent technological “think-tank”. The combination of knowledge and processes at the facilities will lead to the development of new techniques and offers, securing future supply of raw materials and metals in Europe and supporting the development of new activities and companies, e.g. technology providers.

Description of the activities

Production of metals is capital-intensive and failed investments in production facilities can lead to serious or catastrophic consequences for the company or investor. To minimize risks and to develop efficient processes, pilot-plant trials are of great importance. A pilot plant is a facility where process unit, equipment, integrated process and process parameters can be tested in a certain scale (few hundred kgs to a couple of tonnes), in continuous conditions with the intention to provide knowledge for a decision whether to invest or not. Consequently, access to pilot plants is necessary to bring ideas or concepts into industrial use, i.e. “Crossing the valley of death”.

There are several existing metallurgical and mineral processing pilot plants in Europe which cover many different aspects of mineral processing, metallurgy and production of metals including critical raw materials, CRMs. The infrastructure and the conditions can vary widely and knowledge about their existence can be limited. The network intends to bring the existing facilities together in order to create a “one stop shop” provider of services for the European industry, to market it, make it operational and able to serve all of Europe. By bringing already existing operational facilities together, it is possible to get a “kick start” and the platform can operate from day one at relatively small expense.

It is necessary for European industry (mining and metals industry and technology providers) to have access to a network of knowledge that can work cross-sectorially and innovatively by combining the expertise of all members. Flexibility and speed will be enhanced and solutions will come into industrial use faster and more efficiently. Future needs and challenges are not known, but the flexibility and versatility of the platform and the cooperation between different stakeholders enables industry to respond to these challenges more efficiently.

It is likely that there are blank spots in services or facilities which no one covers today; therefore, additional investments in equipment or people have to be considered. To become attractive to industry and academia the platform must work independently of commercial or political bodies on a non-profit basis and under strict confidentiality.
1. Building the network (2014)
- Map competences and equipment and ongoing projects
- Decide the model for the organization, including legal aspects such as confidentiality, IPR, legal status of the network
- Create the network with a core group of providers of metallurgical and/or mineral processing competence and pilot equipment. The core partners of are; Swerea MEFOS in Sweden, IMN in Poland, CEA in France, GTK in Finland, BRGM in France and ELKEM in Norway
- Create a partner advisory board consisting of relevant industrial companies and academia. The advisory partners will contribute with their professional input to the network such as a) ideas, theoretical basis and research news from the academia and b) industrial needs and experience. The partners are also expected to contribute in order to create, initialize and participate in research and pilot projects in – for each project – relevant consortia. So far the following partners are supporting the platform ;
o Companies : Aurubis, ZGH Bolesław, Outotec, Stena metall, LKAB, Eramet, Eyde a cluster organization and motor for industrial development in South-Norway
o Academia: AGH University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Non-ferrous Metals, Cracow, Poland, Institute of Non-ferrous and Rare Metals, Bucharest, Romania, Oulu mining school and Aalto University, Finland, Luleå university of Technology Sweden, Sintef and Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

2. Create the offer and market (2014- no foreseen end date)
- Joint marketing and communication plan
- Set up a common website
- A common procedure to handle calls and inquiries openly and efficiently.
- Joint marketing activities (participating at conferences, expos etc)
- Special focus will be placed on reaching SMEs using existing channels such as Enterprise European Network.

3. Joint projects (2015-2020)
- Workshops and seminars with industrial and academic partners to find innovative project ideas and to increase the pace in industrialization of ideas and concepts
- Develop joint long-term projects

4. Develop the position (2015-2016)
- Gap analysis to find out what is missing in equipment/processes and people/skills
- Plan for how to proceed to fill the gaps
- Position a "think thank" providing expertise in mineral processing and metallurgy, acting as an adviser for policy makers, member states, stakeholders, investors

5. Collaboration with other Raw Material Commitments
- The development of MetNet will be in collaboration with other RMC, especially EuROPEM, the European research network on ore processing and extractive metallurgy and EIH, the Creation of a European Hydrometallurgical Institute.

Description of the expected impacts

1. Minimising risk for industrial investments
Less risk and higher hit-rate in investments for new or modified mineral processing and metallurgical processes or procedures. The ability to safely bring projects from low TRL (and relatively low investment level) to high TRL (and relatively high investments) is crucial for a sustainably successful industrial implementation of new projects, new raw materials or innovative processes. The MetNet will provide such opportunity for the European industrial community.
2. Faster industrialisation
More low TRL projects tested for industrialization. New complex innovative technologies developed by combination of existing technologies. SMEs will have better access to competence, testing facilities and qualification/verification. Supporting/boosting the re-industrialisation of Europe and thereby creating safer jobs.
3. More efficient and sustainable use of raw material and energy
Sharing knowledge in “the art of scaling up”, which is a major concern when bringing ideas to industrial work. Enhance environment and economy indicators by using raw materials in a more efficient way and producing more value and less waste by combining expertise, knowledge and different industrial sectors and testing the concepts in close-to-industry scale via swift and borderless cooperation within the network.
Combining knowledge from different material processing industries will develop more energy-efficient processes and minimize energy losses.

Coordinating organisation & role

Name of the coordinating organisation: Swerea MEFOSCountry: SwedenEntity profile: OtherRole within the commitment:

Coordinating the network. Running activities related to pyro metallurgy pilot trials.

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 01-01-2014 to 31-12-2016