We examine the circular economy models of metals and industrial minerals by utilising municipal and electronic waste and side flows from mining and other industry as raw materials. We create reusable materials with mechanical and hydrometallurgical processes.
The SCI-MAT platform meets the inorganic raw material needs of industry, taking social, environmental, and economic sustainability into consideration. Metals and industrial minerals have increasing significance in societies, as they are needed in modern technologies. Circularity of critical metals and other kinds of inorganic raw materials is essential for sustainable development towards carbon neutrality. Many of the metals used in modern technologies are scarce in nature and the primary resources are often localized. Adding to the challenge, these local resources may be in areas where their utilization carries significant ethical and/or political issues.
In addition to the recovery of valuable metals from secondary sources, the SCI-MAT platform also studies the treatment and valorization of industrial wastes, residues and side streams. In this latter, for instance composite raw materials (noise barrier elements, building materials, etc.) and excavation materials (road construction, safe landfill structures) form an important area of platform research. Side streams suitable for these kinds of material applications and residues are produced practically in all industries and local plants. Examples of such residues are incineration ashes from pulp and energy plants, green liquor dregs from pulp mills, slags from steel industry, and tailings from the mining industry. Especially tailings are a huge global challenge due to the growing production amounts, tightening legislation, as well as the accompanied severe environmental risks. Green liquor dregs and different types of incineration ashes create significant environmental concerns as well. Further, ashes from various industries that are produced by the rate of hundreds of millions of tons per year globally contain various valuable metals that could be recovered.