Strategic Raw Materials from Mining Residues
|Samples from Saxonian Mining Residues|
|Foto: VNG/ Detlev Müller|
Old tailing dams are an important potential source of raw materials. They still harbor large amounts of valuable resources - it is just that, in the past, the technologies available to extract these resources were inefficient or the resources we now seek simply were not of interest then. Tailing dams in Saxony, Central Germany, are among those that hold tremendous potential - what that potential is specifically is the subject of research being done at the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology and its partners. Its focus is on tailings that originated by processing complex ores containing metals such as tin, zinc, silver, or wolfram, and associated elements like lithium or indium, which today are of particular importance for high tech applications. Tailing dams are so much more than simply a remnant of a former source of raw materials. By mining the tailings, or, in effect, "remining" them, the dams' inherent potential can be tapped.
Economical and Environmentally-Friendly
Experts are looking into how the valuable resources found in old tailing dams may be extracted in an economical and environmentally-friendly way. This would also help minimize the environmental risk inherent in the tailings, which contain high amounts of heavy metals. We are trying to answer the question whether it is possible to efficiently mine, concentrate, and metallurgically process these raw materials. Researchers are currently testing different kinds of technologies for this purpose. The ultimate goal is to come up with a reference method for extracting strategically important raw materials from residues of historic mining and beneficiation industries. In addition, researchers are compiling data on Saxony's top 20 largest tailing dams - including geographic location, ownership details, structure, resource content, the dams' value-added potential, as well as the origin of the materials found within them - and entering all that information into a database. They also record information about potential technologies to use for mining and processing raw materials, and on their associated costs.
- Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (coordinator)
- TU Bergakademie Freiberg
- G.E.O.S. Freiberg Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH
- SAXONIA Standortentwicklungs- und -verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH
- AKW Apparate + Verfahren GmbH
Durantion: October 2012 - 2016
Grant: 910.000 Euros
Funding measure: r3 - Innovative Technologies for Resource Efficiency - Strategic Metals and Minerals