Publications Repository - Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf
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The resource potential of mine waste – More than metal concentrations
In the last decade, several national and European funding programs addressed the resource potential of mine wastes (including tailings and metallurgical slag dumps), with a clear focus on the development of new sources for critical raw materials (CRM). The European Commission defined CRMs as highly important for the European high tech industry. European and national resource strategies refer to this definition and include the development of new CRM sources as one of their main objectives. The German Federal Ministry for Research and Education (BMBF) funded the program “r3 –strategic metals and minerals – innovative technologies for resource efficiency” that started in 2012. The aim of the program was to ensure the domestic supply of strategically significant metals and minerals. Suitable projects had to act in the fields of recycling and substitution of raw materials as well as in the field of reduced material consumption. Urban mining and the evaluation of resource efficiency were further topics that suited the program. The Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology (UMSICHT) worked already together in different projects about mine waste characterization and resource extraction in r3.
The Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology pursues the objective of developing innovative technologies for the economy so that mineral and metalliferous raw materials become more available, undergo highly efficient processes and recycle in an environmentally
friendly manner. As a part of the national strategy for raw materials in 2011, the German government initiated the HIF. It is a constituent part of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf and works in close collaboration with TU Bergakademie Freiberg. The HIF is a core member of the European EIT RawMaterials network, having played a decisive role in its establishment. Fraunhofer UMSICHT is a pioneer for sustainable energy and raw materials management by supplying and transferring scientific results into companies, society and politics. The dedicated UMSICHT team researches and develops, together with partners, sustainable products, processes and services. Together with industry and public partners, such as the Geological Survey of Germany (BGR), UMSICHT and HIF founded the r³-mine-waste-cluster in order to determine a realistic mine waste
potential for Germany and give a reliable resource estimation for secondary raw materials. Nowadays, however, there is a political and public interest beyond the potential of valuable metals from mine wastes. After the catastrophic tailings accident in Vales Corrego do Feijão mine, Brazil, the social pressure to lower these risks raised on the mining industry, on the mine waste owners (e.g. states) and on the politics. With the new Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management a new set of guidelines was developed in order to avoid these accidents in the future. “The International Council
on Mining and Metals (ICMM), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) share a commitment to the adoption of global best practices on tailings storage facilities. They have co-convened this global tailings review to establish an international standard.” Their environmental risks and at the same time their high potential as a source for (critical) raw materials make mine waste projects a complex exercise. There is a need for solutions that respect environmental, technical, civil and economic issues and provide holistic and sustainable approaches. In order to validating and adjusting different approaches, the HIF coordinates the recomine-alliance. Local stakeholders representing environmental, technical, scientific, governmental and civil institutions assemble in recomine for a development of holistic mine waste solutions for a worldwide application.
Keywords: re-mining; resources; HIF; tailings; mine waste; mining; CRM; slag dump; mine water; WIR!; r3; recomine; Freiberg; Network; Alliance; BMBF; holistic; remediation; sustainable
- World of Mining - Surface & Underground 72(2020)5, 264-269