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Recycling mining waste: a new business? (EU NEMO project video)

In this short video the EU Horizon2020 NEMO project is presented. NEMO stands for “Near-zero-waste recycling of low-grade sulphidic mining waste for critical-metal, mineral and construction raw-material production in a circular economy”. NEMO develops, demonstrates and exploits new ways to valorise sulphidic mining waste. Focus is on the upscaling of innovative pilots, which comprise the bioleaching of sulphidic waste, the recovery of metals (Cu, Zn, Co, Ni, REE, Mn), the removal of sulphur as sulphate salts and the use of the mineral fraction in cement and concrete applications.

NEMO video: long version

NEMO project

With an estimated volume of 600 Mtonne/yr and a historic stockpile of 28,000 Mtonne, sulphidic mining waste from the production of Cu, Pb, Zn and Ni, represents the largest volume of extractive waste in Europe. When poorly managed, these “tailings” may cause major environmental problems such as acid mine drainage. In 2016 EIP Raw Materials launched a “call to arms” to transform the “extractive-waste problem” into a “resource-recovery opportunity”, as “tailings” still contain valuable & critical metals.

To support meeting this challenge, NEMO has established an interdisciplinary consortium, including 8 industrial partners (2 mining, 4 engineering, 1 machine manufacturing & 1 construction material company), 4 research institutes, 2 universities and 1 civil society group. 

NEMO Pilots

Using a “4 PILOTS – 2 case-studies” concept, NEMO develops, demonstrates and exploits, new ways to valorise sulphidic mining waste. The 4 PILOTS are located at key points in the near-zero-waste flowsheet, encompassing the recovery of valuable & critical metals, the safe concentration of hazardous elements, the removal of sulphur as sulphate salts, while using the residual mineral fraction in cement, concrete and construction products.

Pooring of cement slag

Image: Pooring of cement slag at NEMO partner Resourcefull (Source: Storyrunner)

Image: Piloting facilities of NEMO partner VTT. Source: VTT
NEMO impact 

NEMO’s near-zero-waste technology will provide the EU with both direct and long-term, indirect advantages. The former range from new resources (e.g. base metals: Cu, Zn, Ni, Au; critical metals: Co, Sc, Nd, Y, Sb; SCM and aggregates etc.), CO2 savings from metal recovery and the replacement of Ordinary Portland Cement), new job creation, new revenues from the multiplication of the former benefits, while eradicating acid-mine drainage and other environmental issues, and ensuring an enhanced dialogue (framework) between industry and civil society, to obtain and maintain the License to Operate mines in EU. 

The NEMO project is very timely as it can contribute to achieve the objectives of the EU Green Deal as the transition towards a climate neutral economy is highly resource intensive. The research can unlock a huge potential for the resource recovery from residues and waste streams, and as such push for another necessary step towards a circular economy.

NEMO video

The interviews with the various NEMO researchers were conducted in June 2020; additional archive footage of a.o. Boliden and VTT completed the video. The NEMO video was produced by Storyrunner prouction house. 
Watch the video here
NEMO video: short version

Find out more about the NEMO project on h2020-nemo.eu




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