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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

On-site REprocessing of residues from the extractive industry using FLEXible plants

Objectives of the commitment

The overall aims of the commitment are:
- To develop techniques and schemes for the re-processing of mining and metallurgical residues combining metals and mineral substances recovery and reduction of deleterious environmental impact
- To deliver plug-and-play modular and transportable processing plant, suitable for widespread implementation throughout the mineral and metallurgy industry
- To demonstrate the capabilities of such modular processing plant
- To improve long-term environmental safety of old mining residues by reprocessing them, and thereby covering part of remediation costs for old mining sites from sales revenue of recovered metals and mineral substances
- To provide the EC with new BAT for post mining activities
- To define new business model that could justify the creation of a spin-off company that would sell feasibility studies and mobile processing solutions.

Description of the activities

The concept of the REFLEX commitment lies in the selection (using databases), the development of a sampling methodology and the in-depth characterization of a range of residues dumps arising from mining and metallurgical activity. Based on that characterization, a range of mineral and metal processing techniques which have the potential to be used as part of a mobile or transportable processing plant is identified. Best available techniques are then tested at the lab scale. The results from lab-tests will allow ranking those techniques according to their treatment efficiency. The assembly of unit operations (techniques) to process schemes will then be performed. The overall performance will be assessed by taking into account mass balances, water and energy consumption, capital and operating costs and finally, the environmental footprint. Selected best treatment schemes will be demonstrated on-site or in partners‘ technological platforms on sufficiently large amounts (several tenths of tons) of materials to demonstrate the TRL 5-6. The overall concept shall result in providing detailed flow-sheets for a flexible and even mobile technology comprising all the mineral and metallurgical processing units that can be moved or trucked in from one site to another for the reprocessing of residue materials. The advantages brought by a modular processing plant are numerous. They include ―geographic‖ flexibility to move to different locations so that to follow ore deposits, low investment costs as mutualized between retreatment sites. They also include the possibility to be used for exploration activities, extracting metals from low-grade ores or residues, treating alluvial and marginal ore deposits, hiring or even simple plant management and control. They may also be used to serve as pilot plant for larger reworking operations or to set up a small-scale mining school. At the same time, the process would rehabilitate the residues dumps, either introducing the tailings onto environmentally friendly, safe re-engineered dumps or as marketable raw materials for construction, civil works or other industrial applications. Reclaim operations may also help to solve issues of land use.
The REFLEX commitment aims to develop sustainable reprocessing practices based on a systematic and rigorous design method, to be used in consultation with all stakeholders to provide pertinent compliance with regulations as regards both societal and ecological impacts of the mining, mineral processing and metallurgical sites within EU.
The business model will be based on the inventory of historical mining, mineral processing and metallurgical waste. This inventory will be realized using (i) the Inventory of closed waste facilities from Article 20 of the Directive 2006/21/EC on the management of waste from the extractive industries and (ii) databases and information currently under construction in various EU projects.
REFLEX would also serve efficiently:
- Existing national programs related to network of expertise on secondary sources of critical raw materials (CRMs) like PROSUM (CSA),
- Projects targeting the development of innovative hydrometallurgical techniques for metal recovery from low grade ores and wastes (RIA METGROW+),
- Projects and approaches aiming at exploiting difficult low grade and complex ores to achieve high efficiency recovery of base metals and CRMs (RIA INTMET and RIA OPTIMORE),
It would benefit from the MINVENTORY and PROMINE databases on pan-European statistical database on raw materials deposits and EU mining and metallurgical residues.

Description of the expected impacts

The main expected impacts from REFLEX commitment are anticipated to be as follows:
- Stimulation of European competitiveness by creation of added value, new jobs and business for mining companies and for technology providers; REFLEX commitment aims to generate a market analysis and a business plan that might support the creation of a Spin-off company that will target characterization and treatment of all types of mineral processing and metallurgical wastes and residues aiming at both site remediation and metals and minerals recovery;
 Unlocking the access to various base metals and critical raw materials from a large volume of mineral and metallurgical operations, thus improving the global resources efficiency from former European mining operations and preparing solution for on-going and future operation. From REFLEX case studies, it can be expected to produce Au, Ag, W, REE, Pb, Zn from EU secondary resources. A particular attention will be paid to inert materials that will be obtained after metals recovery considering up-cycling opportunities for civil work and building purposes.
 Improvement of economic viability, investment security and environmental efficiency of metal production operations, by providing small scale flexible and mobile optimized (for energy and water consumptions) solutions that will reduce environmental footprint and landscape immobilization of mining activities. REFLEX will improve the global efficiency of the former exploitations of raw materials. It will allow the exploitation of residues, with the investment shared between several reprocessing sites. REFLEX will also reduce the financial liability associated with storage of potentially hazardous waste materials and will allow the repurposing of the restored land.

Coordinating organisation & role

Name of the coordinating organisation: French Geological Survey (BRGM)Country: FranceEntity profile: Governmental/public bodyRole within the commitment:

BRGM leads the commitment. BRGM will be involved in the characterisation of residues by on-site investigations. BRGM will test and validate mineral processing and bio-hydrometallurgical techniques at the lab and pilot scales, will bring expertise in process modelling and simulation as well as in life cycle analysis for the assessment of the environmental impacts of designed process schemes.

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 01-07-2016 to 31-12-2020