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European Research Area - Network on the Industrial Handling of Raw Materials for European Industries

Final Report Summary - ERA-MIN (European Research Area - Network on the Industrial Handling of Raw Materials for European Industries)

Executive Summary:
Within 4 years ERA-MIN has succeeded in becoming a key player in the field of the raw materials by better coordinating national programmes and funding and by better integrating the European non-energy raw materials community. The ERA-MIN network, which is currently composed of 20 agencies from 15 European countries and 2 international cooperation countries (Argentina and South Africa) has gained high visibility by publishing the ERA-MIN Research Agenda covering the entire value chain (from primary to secondary resources and substitution as well as cross-cutting issues like mitigation of environmental impacts and raising public awareness, international cooperation and training) and by implementing 3 joint calls through which 17 transnational projects have been funded. ERA-MIN is thus closely interacting with the EIP on Raw Materials, as well as the ETP-SMR, the EIT KIC on Raw Materials and other initiatives to address the challenge of sustainable supply of mineral resources in Europe.

Project Context and Objectives:
The main objective of ERA-MIN, which is currently composed of 20 agencies from 15 European countries and 2 international cooperation countries (Argentina and South Africa), is to overcome the current state of fragmentation in the field of research on non-energy mineral resources by better coordinating national programmes and funding at EU level, in close connection with industry. The topics ad-dressed by ERA-MIN cover the entire value chain : from primary to secondary resources and substit-tion as well as cross-cutting issues like mitigation of environmental impacts and raising public aware-ness, international cooperation and training.
To foster synergies ERA-MIN has the following objectives:
1) to identify relevant stakeholders (funding / managing agencies, industry and academia), assess their needs and expectations and provide an overview of existing funding;
2) to invite key-players, including international cooperation partners, to join the ERA-MIN network;
3) to provide a Strategic Roadmap drafted by high level experts to assess research and innovation gaps and challenges;
4) to launch one or more joint call(s) and to disseminate the results;
5) to implement the sustainability of the network.

Project Results:
The major achievements are :


Many program owners, program managers and researchers from different EU countries were contacted by the WP leader with the objective of enlargement of the consortium. The main result is the integration of four new Beneficiaries (Romania/UEFISCDI; Turkey/TUBITAK; France/ADEME; Slovakia/Geological Survey of Slovakia) and six Associate partners (UK/KTN; Italy/ENEA; Ireland/Geological Survey of Ireland; The European Federation of Geologists), out of which two international cooperation partners : Argentina/MINCYT and South Africa/DST. In parallel, the ERA-MIN Stakeholder Forum has been growing (consisting of representatives of the ERA-MIN funded projects, experts having contributed to the ERA-MIN Roadmap etc.). Connections with raw materials related initiatives outside ERA-MIN have also been established (ETP-SMR, EIP on Raw Materials) as well as with other EU-funded projects (M-ERA.NET CRM InnoNet, Cobalt, EMIRI).
Thus, while ERA-MIN had started with 11 partners from 9 European countries it is now a network composed of 20 partners covering 15 European countries and 2 third countries which is working in close connection with a large Stakeholder Forum


Regarding international cooperation DST (South Africa) and MINCYT (Argentina) became Associate partners of ERA-MIN by signing an agreement with the ERA-MIN Coordinator in 2014 and participated in the second and third ERA-MIN joint call. In total 5 selected projects had South African partners (one as project coordinator) and 2 projects had Argentinian partners. This shows a very fruitful cooperation between EU and third countries in minerals research.
ERA-MIN was also represented at international conferences like the EU-Latin America Dialogue on Raw Materials or the EU-US-Japan Trilateral Conferences on Critical Materials. At the ERA-MIN Stakeholder Conference organized in Berlin on 17-19 March 2015 ERA-MIN invited 3 keynote international speakers from USA, Australia and Taiwan and as a result they confirmed their interest in future cooperation. The presentation of ERA-MIN achievements at the two “Workshop on best practices on mining policies and technologies” in 2014 and in 2015 organised by the European Commission contributed to the awareness of ERA-MIN outcomes to target third countries (Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, USA, etc) and promoted their interest in a follow-up project and activities. Furthermore the ERA-MIN Governing Board has agreed on a strategy for international cooperation to focus the international cooperation efforts on a few countries where the added value for ERA-MIN has been clearly identified. The first and second priorities of target countries were identified for each research topic.


Even though the final Roadmap was only due by November 2013, the process was speed up in order to have a draft roadmap completed for the first meeting of the High Level Steering Group of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) in February 2013.
To meet this goal 5 thematic working-groups have been set up in 2012 covering the whole value chain from exploration to recycling and include also horizontal themes like environmental impcat, education and training. Altogether, almost 100 experts from academia and industry participated in the drafting of the ERA-MIN Roadmap. The 5 working groups were :
• New technologies and solutions for sustainable primary sources supply – chaired by Pär Weihed (Luleå University of Technology );
• New technologies and solutions for sustainable secondary resources supply – chaired by Christian Hagelueken, (Umicore) and Tamas Hamor (MBFH);
• New technologies and solutions for the substitution of critical materials – chaired by Derk Bol (M2i);
• Public policy support for primary, secondary resources and materials, and mineral intelligence – chaired by P. Christmann (BRGM) and Elisabeth Kohler (CNRS-INSU);
• Cooperation, public education, teaching – chaired by Nick Arndt (Univ. Grenoble).
A first draft of the ERA-MIN Research Agenda was circulated in February 2013 and discussed by more than 100 experts (some of them part of the working groups and some others external to the process) during the ERA-MIN Roadmap Conference held in Lisbon in March 2013. The Roadmap was consolidated during April 2013 and circulated to the EIP, where it was presented and used as an input to the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP). In the subsequent months an executive summary has been added and some rewriting and editorial work done. The ERA-MIN Research Agenda was finally published in December 2013 on the ERA-MIN website where it can be downloaded. The Research Agenda, which is the scientific guiding document for the ERA-MIN joint calls, should also help to set up other strategic common actions at European level.


According to the original DoW, the first ERA-MIN Joint Call it was planned to launch a first pilot call in June 2014. The ERA-MIN partners though decided to implement a first call one year earlier and launched the pilot call in April 2013. After this successful start two more joint calls were launched in 2014 and 2015 so that ERA-MIN finally implemented three joint calls instead of one. For the three joint calls the national agencies pooled together a total budget of 18.7 million. Finally 17 transnational projects have been selected for funding.

Joint Call 2013
5 funding agencies, FCT (Portugal), NCBR (Poland), TEKES (Finland), UEFISCDI (Romania) and VINNOVA (Sweden) participated in the first ERA-MIN Joint Call 2013.
18 full proposals were submitted in total from 67 participants. Out of the 18 proposals, 14 passed the eligibility check. After evaluation and ranking, 4 projects were finally selected for funding:
- CELMIN: Utilisation of green chemicals in non/energy extractive industries: Preparation of modified nanofibrillar celluloses (NFC) for flotation, flocculation and dewatering, and water purification in mining industry
- GEOSULF: Utilization of sulphide mine tailings in geopolymer materials
- MAXI: Mineral Analysis using X-ray Imaging
- SUSMIN: Tools for sustainable gold mining in EU

Joint Call 2014

The second call was launched on the 21st March 2014 with a submission deadline on the 17th of June. 13 research funding agencies from 11 countries participated in the second ERA-MIN Joint Call : ADEME (France), ANR (France), DST (South Africa), FCT (Portugal), MINCYT (Argentina), MINECO (Spain), NCBR (Poland), OTKA (Hungary), SGU (Sweden), TEKES (Finland), TUBITAK (Turkey), UEFISCDI (Romania) and VINNOVA (Sweden).
21 full proposals from 83 participants were submitted out of which 16 were declared eligible. Finally 7 high quality proposals were selected for transnational funding.
- AMDREY : Extraction of Earth Elements from Acid Mine Drainage
- BOFLUX: Characterisation of the impact, boron addition has on the physical and smelting properties of chromite slag
- ENVIREE : ENVIronmentally friendly and efficient methods for extraction of Rare Earth Elements from secondary sources
- EXTRAVAN : Innovative extraction and management of vanadium from high vanadium iron concentrate and steel slags
- NewOres : Development of New models for the genesis of Rare Metal (W, Nb, Ta, Li) Ore deposits from the European Variscan Belt and valorization of low grade and fine grained ore and mine tailings
- RAREASH : Assessment of Possible Recycling Directions of Heavy & Rare Metals Discovered from Combustion Waste Products
- StartGeoDelineation : State-of-the-art geophysical and geological methods for delineation of mineral deposits and their associated structures

Joint call 2015

The third ERA-MIN joint call was launched in March 2015 and closed on 19 May 2015. It was supported by 12 funding organisations from 12 countries : TEKES (Finland), ADEME (France), OTKA (Hungary), PTJ/BMBF (Germany); GSI (Ireland), NCBR (Poland), FCT (Portugal), UEFISCDI (Romania), VINNOVA (Sweden), TUBITAK (Turkey), DST (South Africa) and MINCYT (Argentina). Germany was participating for the first time in an ERA-MIN joint call.
Out of the 23 submitted proposals, 20 were declared eligible. At the end, 6 high quality proposals were selected.

- HITEM : Highly sensitive receiver for Transient Electromagnetic responses in exploitation of deeply buried mineral occurrences
- REMinE: Improve Resource Efficiency and Minimize Environmental Footprint
- CHARPHITE : Coal char as a substituting material of natural graphite in green energy technologies
- COGITO-MIN: Cost-effective geophysical imaging techniques for supporting ongoing mineral exploration in Europe
- BIOCriticalMetals : Recognition of microbial functional communities and assessment of the mineralizing potential (bioleaching) for high-tech critical metals
- BATRe ARES : Battery Recycling – Achieving Rare Earth Separation (Selective rare earth recy-cling from intermetallic compounds of NiMH batteries)


Regarding the sustainability of the network several initiatives were taken by ERA-MIN. An EIP Raw Materials commitment was submitted in February 2014. Then, seeing an opportunity to continue the activities related to the Roadmap ERA-MIN finally decided to join the VERAM (Vision and Roadmap for European Raw Materials) project which was submitted in April and selected in August 2015 under the call H2020 SC5-13d-2015. As coordinator of the ERA-MIN network and roadmap, CNRS is representing ERA-MIN in VERAM and will work in close cooperation with all of the other ERA-MIN partners. Besides ERA-MIN the consortium is composed of the ETP-SMR (coordinator), FTP (The Forest-based Sector Technology Platform) and representatives of other Europan Technologyy Platforms (SusChem, EuMAT, ECTP), as well as of Woodwisdom-Net. In addition to preparing a Common Vision and Roadmap, VERAM aims to generally promote research and innovation and (i) strengthening the interface between industry, researchers and policymakers in setting R&I priorities; (ii) mobilising a critical mass of R&I funding capacity; (iii) supporting exploitation and dissemination of results; and (iv) reducing fragmentation through an increased cooperation spanning from the re-gional to the global level.
While it is important for the sustainability of the ERA-MIN network to participate in new projects, the partners are also committed to ensure the sustainability of ongoing activities. This is especially crucial for the monitoring and assessment of the 17 projects funded under the ERA-MIN joint calls. Four of these projects have started in 2014 and will last until 2016-2017; seven of them have started in 2015 and will finish in 2017-2018, while the six new projects just selected at the end of the third ERA-MIN joint call have not started yet. The national funding agencies will have to organise review meetings and to disseminate the results. Despite the end of the current ERA-MIN project on the 31st of October 2015, it is also very important to keep the ERA-MIN corporate image through networking and communication activities. To formalize these commitments the coordinator has drafted a document which has been signed by most of the ERA-MIN partners.
Last but not least, ERA-MIN is now preparing the submission of an ERA-NET Cofund on Raw Materials under the H2020 SC5-17-2016 call which opened on the 10th of November 2015 and will close on the 8th of March 2016. Thus the national funding agencies involved in ERA-MIN have started to prepare a proposal featuring new joint calls for 2017 and beyond.

Potential Impact:

Through its Roadmap and joint calls, ERA-MIN will give a high added value to research in the field of raw materials by avoiding duplication and fragmentation at EU level. Through the coordination among funding agencies and cooperation with stakeholders from industry and academia, ERA-MIN is participating in the EIP objective of putting Europe at the forefront in the raw materials sector and mitigating the related negative environmental, social and health impacts.

As The EU faces a number of critical issues that can endanger the security of supply of the highly diversified mineral resources needed by its economy, a better knowledge of supplies, innovative technologies and solutions for sustainable primary and secondary resources or for substitution of critical materials have therefore become crucial. By fostering research and innovation on the entire value chain of raw materials, from ore extraction to mineral processing, and from product design to reuse and recycling, ERA-MIN can contribute to create jobs in European industries which are highly dependent on raw materials, like the automotive, aviation, wind power, photovoltaic, lighting industries and the high-tech sector as a whole.

List of Websites: