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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

The Platinum Consortium: promoting research and innovation on platinum and related metals

Objectives of the commitment

Platinum, a noble metal, lends its name to our consortium. The platinum-group metals (PGE) are widely used in high-technology industry, most notably in catalytic converters. They are the most critical of elements because >70% of global production (ca. 160 t) comes from South Africa and Russia, countries whose long-term stability is not assured. Only ca. 25% is recycled. Production is Europe is insignificant but chances of finding new deposits are high, both in Europe (Nordic and Baltic countries) and elsewhere (Greenland and Africa)

Our consortium has a balanced membership from universities (7 partners), government surveys (4) and industry (6). Our objectives, all applied to the PGE and related metals (Ni, Cr, Co and V) are to:
- promote innovative research on ore formation, mineral exploration, refining and recycling
- foster exploration and mining in selected regions in Europe and Africa
- help assure a reliable supply of metals for European industry
- promote innovative teaching, training of future professionals and dissemination of information to the general public

Description of the activities

We will apply innovative new techniques developed in universities and research institutions to mineral exploration, mining, refining and recycling, e.g.:
1) ISTerre Grenoble, in collaboration with the International Continental Drilling Program in Potsdam, will adapt LIBS technology from the ChemCam analyser on the Curiosity Mars rover to mineral exploration.
2) GA Drilling in Slovakia will apply an innovative PLASMABIT method for drilling and real-time geochemical analysis of target rocks.
3) ISTerre Grenoble and Colorado School of Mines will develop state-of-the-art seismic focusing and electrokinetic coupling to the exploration for deeply buried ore deposits.
4) Cardiff University will use high-resolution 3D X-ray microscopy developed at CET/CSIRO Australia to improve the recovery of Pt from ores and waste.

We will use knowledge and expertise from advanced, mineral-producing countries to aid exploration in the Balkans and Greenland. Our industry partners – Boliden in Sweden, Northern Shield Ltd in Canada, GexplOre in France and GA Drilling in Slovakia – play an essential role. Government surveys in France, Germany, Denmark and Finland will contribute data from compilations of 3D geological/geophysical maps.

We will improve R&D coordination between universities, geological surveys, and major companies and will train sorely needed future professionals by helping to develop three new teaching and research centres: 1) a Centre for Intrusion Studies at Cardiff University; 2) a Mineral Exploration Research and Training Centre in Sofia University and 3) a Centre of Mineral Processing and Hydrometallurgy in Nancy, France. We will draw on the European Ore Deposits Initiative (EODI) to explore innovative models for the formation of ore deposits, including on-going studies of type-examples in South Africa, Australia and China as well as European deposits (e.g. Norilsk, Russia; Algligen, Sweden; Kevitsa, Finland).

A major impediment to European research and development of the minerals sector is poor communication between private and public sectors. The synergy that boosts research and industrial performance in Australia and Canada is largely absent. To help remedy the situation we propose joint planning of research projects, joint workshops on mine sites, and “sabbaticals” for company geologists in universities and academics in companies. To develop the industrial aspects of our program, we will engage a consultant (D. Stonley) with vast experience in European and multi-national companies.

To promote skills, education and knowledge, our consortium includes partners from 9 European and 3 non-European countries, including major industrial, metal-consuming countries and current or potential metal producers. New centres in Cardiff, Sofia and Nancy will provide a venue for training students and future professionals. We will publish new texts on ore deposits (in English and French) and will develop a MOOC on all aspects of the minerals industry.

Two stages are planned:
2014-2015 – compilation of information on exploration targets in Europe; development of exploration tools; planning of research/training centres
2015-2019 – active exploration by public-private consortia applying new techniques; coordinated industry-government-sponsored research and training; establishment of training centres and dissemination of new training tools

Description of the expected impacts

The following scenario would constitute one favourable outcrop of our project. Exploration coordinated by a consortium of industry and academic geologists and financed by the EU and the European Investment Bank results in the discovery of a major ore deposit in a hitherto poorly explored part of Europe, e.g. Bulgaria, Greece or Greenland. After long and concerted consultation, the local population is convinced that the deposit can be mined in an environmentally responsible manner and the mine subsequently generates wealth and employment in a poorly developed part of Europe. New in-situ mining techniques and novel methods of ore processing result in the operation being promoted as a model mine that helps to convince other communities that the minerals industry is socially acceptable. Additional mines are subsequently discovered and help to lessen Europe’s dependence on imported metals and mineral products.
Summary of impacts:
- acceleration of public-private exploration for deposits of PGE and related metals in Europe
- development of innovative methods for exploration, refining and recycling
- improvement of interaction between researchers throughout Europe and between European, ore-producing and developing countries
- development of interaction between the public and private sectors
- establishment of training centres to educate a new generation of geologists and engineers
- improvement of public perception of the minerals industry
- reduction of Europe’s dependence of imports of critical metals

Coordinating organisation & role

Name of the coordinating organisation: ISTerre, Université Grenoble AlpesCountry: FranceEntity profile: AcademiaRole within the commitment:

Coordinator; research on the origin of magmatic ore deposits, development of new genetic models and exploration tools; development of new geochemical and geophysical methods and application of these methods, in collaboration with industrial partners, to exploration in the Balkans and in Greenland; research on future metal demand and on the social licence to mine; coordination of interaction between public and private sectors; development of new teaching methods in collaboration with new research and training centres in Cardiff, Sofia and Nancy.

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 01-06-2014 to 01-06-2019