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Anja Weigl
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What's new at Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology?

Foto: Spülhalde Davidschacht Freiberg ©Copyright: SAXONIA Standortverwertungs- und -verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH

An environmental burden today, a resource for tomorrow

The Erzgebirge is set to become a model region for the forward-looking treatment of residual materials from the mining industry. Up to €15 million will be made available from the funding program WIR! – Wandel durch Innova­tionen in der Region (We: Innovation for change in the region) under the auspices of the project rECOmine – Ressourcenorien­tier­te Umwelt­techno­logien für das 21. Jahrhundert (rECOmine: Resource-oriented environmental ­techno­logies for the 21st century) set up by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The aim is to promote new methods within the region and for the world market, by means of which tailings and metal-rich water from the mining industry can be sustainably reclaimed and the valuable residual materials can be economically extracted. The project is coordinated by the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) which is part of Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf. TU Bergakademie Freiberg and SAXONIA Standortentwick­lungs­- und ­verwal­tungs­gesell­schaft, a site development and ­manage­ment company, are involved in the running of the project, and it also enjoys the support of Wirt­schaftsförde­rung Erzgebirge GmbH.
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Foto: Aufbereitungsanlage ©Copyright: H

Reducing water consumption in mining

Water is a vital resource on which many industries rely and which can be used more sparingly. An example is the beneficiation of mineral ores. Taking the raw material fluorite as their example, researchers at Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) have now shown how water usage can be optimized. They have developed a new procedure that extends the simulation of the beneficiation process. It indicates the circumstances in which it makes sense for water to be recycled without incurring losses during ore enrichment. The consumption of fresh water can thereby be significantly reduced. This not only benefits the environment but also the mining companies, because it makes the extraction of raw materials more efficient. The researchers have presented their new procedure in the Journal of Environmental Management (DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.11.139).
HIF is part of Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf and works in close collaboration with TU Bergakademie Freiberg.
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Foto: Dr. Martin Rudolph, January 29th 2018 ©Copyright: André Wirsig

Science Communication Award goes to HIF

HIF scientist Dr. Martin Rudolph was awarded the Science Communication Prize of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), to which the HIF belongs, for the successful and committed communication of the research topic "resource efficiency" to the general public and the scientific community. He heads the Department of Processing, which deals with the extraction of primary raw materials and secondary materials by flotation, the most common industrial process for the production of metal concentrates.
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Foto: GERRI (German Resource Research Institute) Round Table Discussion, 26.2.2019, Brussels ©Copyright: GERRI

Roundtable on circular economy: GERRI network demands to strengthen metallurgic capacities in Europe

The German Resource Research Institute GERRI lately invited high-level representatives from politics, research and industry for a debate on Europe’s path towards a circular economy. During the roundtable organised by the network of resource research organisations in Germany, the experts looked at challenges but also discussed different solutions to establish a closed-loop life cycle for products in Europe.
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Foto: Metal wheel without lead metallurgy ©Copyright: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Markus Reuter

Why restricting lead (Pb) metallurgy is a bad idea

During the last few years, the use of lead (Pb) in the EU economy has been called into question by some policy makers. Lead is frequently seen as a problematic metal that can be detrimental to human health; what is much less well known is its fundamental role in the Circular Economy. To provide a firm metallurgical background on the importance of lead, Prof. Bart Blanpain (KU Leuven), Prof. Markus Reu­ter (HZDR/TU Bergakademie Freiberg) and Dr. Annelies Malfliet (KU Leuven), active in the EU ETN SOCRATES network, have published a Policy Brief. They argue that restricting lead metallurgy in the EU would not only have a detrimental impact on the lead industry, but also on all the industries linked to it that work with elements like sil­ver, copper, antimony, tin, tellur and zinc.
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Foto: Recycling index: It could inform consumers about the true recyclability of products. ©Copyright: Fairphone

How much circulation is possible?

Metal recycling is regarded as an important measure of the future to secure the supply of raw materials. Many experts agree on this. In most cases, howe­ver, it is unclear exactly how recyclable a product is and what proportion of the materials can be reco­vered at all. In an interview for the Helmholtz Association's "Earth and Environment" knowledge platform, HIF Director Professor Markus Reu­ter argues that the complexity of modern equipment and the resulting scrap make it har­der to close material flows and achieve a genuine circular economy.
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Foto: Flotation lab. ©Copyright: HZDR/ Frank Schinski

Work and environmental safety and research go hand in hand

Anyone working in a laboratory in research and industry also deals with chemicals and other hazardous substances. To avoid risky situations, employees receive regular training. The Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, which is part of Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, together with the laboratory equipment manufacturer VWR International, is organizing an in-house exhibition on the subject of work and environmental safety on Tuesday, 22.1.2019.
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