UK Funds Extraction of Raw Materials From Mine Tailings

by | 30. Nov 2023 - 11:25 | Politics

Clean-tech company wants to strengthen the alternative supply of rare earth, copper, and other minerals.

Altilium, a UK-based clean-tech company, is receiving financial support from the British government to recover raw materials such as rare earths, copper, and aluminum from mine tailings. According to the company, the two projects, which will receive almost 800,000 euros in funding, are based on its “pioneering work in the recovery of lithium and other key battery materials from waste electric vehicle batteries.” The aim is to support the transition to a circular economy and reduce both existing waste and the environmental impact of traditional mining. Altilium works with the Centre for Process Innovation Limited (CPI), a UK technology and innovation social enterprise, and the Camborne School of Mines (CSM).

The raw materials are to be extracted from Medet in central Bulgaria, the largest tailings dump in Eastern Europe, for which Altilium has exclusive rights to reprocess materials. The ReREE project, which focuses on rare earth metals, is supported by the UK government’s CLIMATES (Circular Critical Materials Supply Chains) program, which aims to improve the supply of critical materials (we reported). CSM will carry out the geochemical and mineralogical characterization of the mining waste. At the same time, Pensana, which is building the UK’s first rare earth refinery, will provide commercial feedback on the recovered raw materials.

Rare earths are named in the UK’s first Critical Mineral Strategy as crucial to domestic electrification efforts, as they are important components of permanent magnets for electric motors and offshore wind turbines. As these technologies become more widespread, demand for rare earths is expected to increase sevenfold by 2050, writes Altilium, with the global market expected to grow from $2.5 billion to $5.5 billion by 2028, according to Fortune Business Insights.

The second project focuses on copper, aluminum, and other battery materials for the e-car supply chain. Although these metals are not considered rare, according to Altilium, demand will also rise sharply, requiring new supply options.

Photo: iStock/TomasSereda

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