UK-based clean technology group Altilium has secured over £700,000 in UK government funding for two collaborative research projects focused on the recovery of copper and rare earth elements (REE) from mine waste.
Building on previous work to recover lithium and other battery materials from end-of-life EV batteries, Altilium is partnering with CPI and the Camborne School of Mines (CSM) for the two projects, which aim to develop new environmentally-friendly processes for the recycling of REE and other battery metals from mine tailings, transforming what was once considered waste into a valuable resource.
Both projects will focus on recovering metals using mine tailings controlled by Altilium in Europe, and providing these in a form that can be used by the UK battery supply chain (for example, to produce copper foils for use as current collectors).
Altilium has exclusive rights to reprocess materials from a large mine tailing site in Eastern Europe. Detailed analysis has already confirmed significant residues of copper, iron, aluminum and other metals at the site. Hydrometallurgical processing of the tailings will be carried out at a new solvent extraction pilot plant at Altilium’s Technology Centre in Tavistock, England.
Altilium is also working with the Camborne School of Mines on a feasibility study exploring the recovery of rare earth elements from mine tailings using innovative hydrometallurgical processes. The project has secured funding from Innovate UK under the Critical Materials for Magnets Competition. Rare earth specialist Pensana will provide commercial feedback on the recovered materials.
“By reprocessing mine waste, we are not only reducing the harmful environmental impact of traditional mining, but also providing a sustainable solution to meet the growing demands for copper and rare earth elements,” said Altilium COO Dr Christian Marston.