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CLC tests technology to convert mine waste into cobalt

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Global Mining Review,

As part of the EU-funded RAWMINA project, Spanish mining company, Cobre Las Cruces (CLC), will test new technologies that seek to extract cobalt, tungsten, gold, and silver from mine waste.

The pioneering extraction methods will provide critical raw materials that are essential for energy transition; both for the development of renewable energies and for new energy storage systems, such as electric vehicle batteries.

One of these methods is bioleaching: a hydrometallurgical process using microorganisms to extract metals from rocks. Compared to conventional metallurgical processes, bioleaching offers benefits such as lower energy and chemical consumption, reduced CO2 footprint and lower capital and operational costs.

The test will be conducted at the pilot plant built in 2016 by CLC as part of its future polymetallic refinery project.

Having the capacity to produce the raw materials that are critical to the energy transition from mine waste could also help reduce European dependence on external markets, such as China.

The RAWMINA project got underway in 2021 and is now entering its final phase. The project involves an international consortium consisting of 19 specialist partners from 10 countries.

CLC’s Director of Innovation and Environment, Joaquín Gotor, noted that: “With this project, we will be able to add new metals to our production portfolio using circular economy principles, contributing to the green transition of greater environmental sustainability”.

Marco Lopes, Impact Acceleration Manager at project partner Crowdhelix, sees RAWMINA as being at the leading edge of mitigating EU critical resource scarcity: “The EU is facing a definite challenge with the unreliable supply of critical raw materials. To help mitigate this challenge, the EU-funded RAWMINA project aims to revolutionise the production of raw materials within the EU by harnessing the potential of mine waste resources.”

“Through the development of an innovative pilot system, RAWMINA seeks to establish a sustainable and efficient process for extracting these essential materials.”

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Cobalt news European mining news