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Nano-particle products from new mineral resources in Europe

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Boosting European mining industry

Boosting European mining industry

Industrial Technologies

The EU experienced an 11 million Euro trade imbalance due to extensive import of mineral resources. The project 'Nano-particle products from new mineral resources in Europe' (PROMINE) was the first large EU-funded integrating project focused on raw materials in the last 20 years. Thirty partners from 11 EU countries joined forces to find reserves, exploit raw materials and mining waste and create new markets for nanomaterial-based products. Scientists created the first pan-European Georesource database including the primary raw materials and secondary raw materials of anthropogenic origin. In addition, PROMINE produced the only map of Critical Raw Materials in Europe.. The EC used these to support research and technological development as well as provide the framework for smart and sustainable growth of enterprises and industry. Researchers also created a four-dimensional model predicting the time evolution of four mineralised belts in Europe, enabling the mining industry to accurately assess new ore deposits. The results are very promising and PROMINE showed that Europe is still strongly underexplored and there are lots of ore deposits in Europe to be found, especially in the deeper bedrock layers. Efforts to capitalise on mining waste were amazingly successful. Treating Greek mining waste with industrial acids yielded extremely pure nano-silica with industrial applicability as an additive e.g. for construction materials and paper products. Commercialisation is under way. Similar commercial potential was found with rhenium-alloys extracted from residuals of the processing of copper ores. Rhenium is essential to special materials used in jet engines. Nano-powdered schwertmanite recovered from lignite mining waste streams was used as a pigment in paints and as a water decontaminant. Researchers have also developed several technologies for preparing secondary mineral resources for metal extraction and recovery. Reliability of new technologies, including biotechnology, for an ecoefficient production of strategic metals was demonstrated. Investigators are pursuing patents for the most promising results. A life cycle assessment highlighted the numerous advantages of PROMINE products over commercial competitors. The project website contains ample information about the entire project and its products, downloads of dissemination materials and a stakeholder database. Scientists also produced the PROMINE stories, a collection of video clips representing important project outcomes, and uploaded them to a dedicated YouTube channel. The EC regards PROMINE as an exemplary project providing a turbo-boost to the raw materials initiative and paving the way to a significantly enhanced position of the EU’s mining industry.

Keywords

mineral resources, database, 4D-modeling, mining, by-products, nano-materials, biotechnology, LCA, commercialisation, dissemination

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