CORDIS - EU research results

Feasibility study on nature based more efficient 2-step bioleaching technology producing methane gas and metal compounds from “low grade” multimetallic European ores/wastes containing organometallics.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MetLeach (Feasibility study on nature based more efficient 2-step bioleaching technology producing methane gas and metal compounds from “low grade” multimetallic European ores/wastes containing organometallics.)

Reporting period: 2017-08-01 to 2018-01-31

"The objective of the overall innovation project BiotaMet is to develop and market a climate-friendly nature-based more efficient 2-step bioleaching technology that would secure the supply of raw materials from EU’s local ores and mine wastes that due to strong organo-metallic complexes are missing cost-efficient metals extracting methods. The objective of the specific feasibility study named MetLeach that was performed via SME-Phase 1 was to evaluate the technological and economic possibilities in widening the usage of the innovative technology on vast underground resource - European polymetallic black shales containing organic compounds and on low-grade mine wastes.
The project addressed the possibilities to expand the market in EU of an innovative new metal extraction technology developed by Estonian SME. Using a new team of different microorganisms on the ore in a cooperation that results with the generation of methane gas and metals dropping into the water solution generates a new more cost-efficient way to extract metals from low-grade ores.

Simultaneously the European deposits of black shale ores contain significant reserves of base and highly valuable rare and precious metals (Mo, Re, V, Ni, Zn, Cu, Ag, Zn, Pb, Co, Bi, Au, Pt, Se, Pd, Sn, etc.) of which Europe is the main consumer in the World. As the conventional metallurgy methods are with low efficiency and negative environmental impact for recovering valuable metals from European black shales, the industry and scientists have turned to biohydrometallurgy.
The outcome of BiotaMet project is strongly supporting the second pillar from 3 pillars that are presented in The European Commission’s Raw Materials Initiative – foster sustainable supply of raw materials within the EU via cost-effective and climate friendly technologies thus boosting overall resource efficiency in the Union. The outcome is also supporting a third pillar of the given Initiative - Resource efficiency and supply of ""secondary raw materials"" through recycling, as technology being developed can be used to maximise the cost-efficiency of extracting metals form mine wastes and electronic waste"
During the project, the following tasks were performed: intellectual property and freedom-to-operate study, study of European black shale and mine waste resources, economic feasibility study, study on regulatory requirements, an analysis of regulatory environment, conduction of the search of a partner for the implementation of full–scale innovation project, preparation of a business plan.
Based on work carried out a feasibility report that verified the economic and technological feasibility of the planned development activities was made in order to establish a solid high-potential innovation project aligned to the BiotaTec’s strategy and with a European dimension.
The MetLeach project is targeted at the focus area of sustainable use of raw materials which stresses the importance of developing and bringing to market cost-effective and resource-efficient technology solutions for the secure raw materials supply. The technology being developed is addressing the EU’s increasing need for reliable and secure access to raw materials provided at competitive price levels, the need can be met with more cost-efficient bioleaching methods from local European ores. Also, the need for energy solutions is addressed by the generation of methane gas from local black ores. BT’s 2-step approach creates the mining companies an opportunity to get maximum value from mine wastes and low-grade ore containing organometallic complexes that hinder the extracting metals via typical bioleaching. A growing number of challenges that are faced by EU miners (the lack of viable resources for conventional metallurgy and compliance with environmental legislation, etc) are creating an interest towards bioleaching technology, that is considered to be a cheaper, reliable, efficient, safe and environmentally friendly way to extract metals. BT’s innovation creates a possibility to raise the recovery rate of metals via bioleaching and lower the operational costs through the generation of energy.
Ensuring sustainable access to raw materials is crucial to the competitiveness and growth of the EU economy and to the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. There are at least 30 million jobs depending on the availability of raw materials in the EU. Securing reliable and unhindered access to raw materials is sadly a growing concern within the EU and across the globe.
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