Participation to a new R&D project on by-products recovery from lithium mining: EXCEED

Participation to a new R&D project on by-products recovery from lithium mining: EXCEED

Jun 8, 2023 | Process simulation

CASPEO is committed to supporting mineral processing plants in finding solutions to ESG challenges. “Sciences to enhance your resources”: the raison d’être of CASPEO is still relevant today. After the H2020 projects, ITERAMS (improve the recycling of water and the valorization of tailings) and CERES (create value from waste by co-processing of coal mine and electronic wastes), we are proud to collaborate to a new HORIZON project: EXCEED. This project aims to develop new by-products extraction routes from lithium mining for Critical Raw Materials (CRM) and industrial minerals with a near zerowaste approach.

Address the growing demand of critical raw materials

Reliable and unhindered access to critical raw materials is a growing concern across the globe. They are confronted with a growing global demand for strategic sectors such as renewable energy, digital, space and defence. For instance, EU demand for rare earth metals is expected to increase six-fold by 2030 and seven-fold by 2050. For lithium, EU demand is expected to increase twelve-fold by 2030 and twenty-one-fold by 2050.

Europe is 100% reliant on imports of Li for the Li-ion batteries. Even if recycling the batteries already in use is part of the solution ; primary supply will still have to cover 90% of the lithium requirement. Paradoxically, Europe hosts 27 lithium hard-rock deposits, representing vast lithium resources. Note that 2/3 of lithium are extracted from brines pumped from aquifers of dried salt lakes, mostly in South America ; 1/3 of lithium are extracted from hard-rock deposits such as pegmatite & rare metal granite

To address this challenge, the Horizon Europe EXCEED project strives to unleash the full critical raw materials and industrial minerals potential of Europe’s vast lithium resources.  

Recover critical raw materials and industrial minerals from main European extractive lithium mines

EXCEED stands for “Cost-effective, sustainable and responsible extraction routes for recovering distinct critical metals and industrial minerals as by-products from key European hard-rock lithium projects”. It includes Sibanye-Stillwater’s Keliber lithium project in Finland, Imerys’ EMILI lithium project in Beauvoir in France, and Savannah Resources PLC Mina do Barroso project in Portugal.

Coordinated by VTT, the project started on January 1, 2023. The consortium comprises 15 partners: VTT, Imerys, CASPEO, Sustainable Innovation Institute (SII), Keliber, Betolar, Savannah, DSC, Wienerberger Belgium, U Lorraine, KU Leuven, Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), University of Oulu, Technical University of Crete, MEAB.

Improve sustainability of lithium extraction and processing

The EXCEED project aims to develop sustainable and responsible extraction routes. To this end, it adopts a multi-metal/mineral, near zero-waste mining and refining process approach. 

The consortium work consists to increase orebody knowledge, to use of predictive & forensic geometallurgy and to develop online technologies to provide real-time mineralogical information for process optimisation. It includes the development of new process flowsheets for recovering critical raw materials (niobium, rare earths, beryllium…) and industrial minerals (quartz, feldspar, mica) as by-products from lithium hard-rock ores. CRMs will be extracted and refined, while diverse industrial minerals will be refined and valorised in low-carbon building materials.

CASPEO is in charge to develop a predictive model taking into account the quantitative mineralogy at the stages of design and follow-up of mineral processing lithium plants. A PhD position is opened to work on this subject.

A lithium mining pilot plant to develop or a processing plant to optimize (material, process, water)... or just want to know more about the EXCEED project?

CASPEO is a worldwide expert in mineral processes desing and optimization. We will be happy to share with you our unique approach based on both material and process modeling.

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