Técnicas Reunidas leading MINETHIC project aiming to recover critical minerals from mining by-products & urban waste

Técnicas Reunidas says it will lead from its José Lladó Technology Centre the development of a research project of great strategic importance for Europe: the recovery of minerals and metals considered as critical raw materials (CPM), key for the technology sector and the ecological transition.

The European Commission has recently warned that the transition towards climate neutrality could transform the current dependence on fossil fuels into a dependence on metals. The research will be undertaken by a consortium comprising five other Spanish companies (FCC Medio Ambiente, Apria Systems, IDP, IMA Magnets and Torrecid) with the scientific coordination of the Multisectoral Research Technology Centre (CETIM).

In addition, the project has three strategic partners (Áridos do Mendo, MAGNA and EDAR Bens) and the contribution of five research organisations (CETIM, Eurecat, IMdea Materiales, Tecnalia and the University of Cantabria). Técnicas Reunidas says that proof of the strategic importance attached to this initiative is that it has been incorporated into the Missions Programme of the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) with the highest rating achieved by any proposal submitted to it since its creation in 2020.

Critical raw materials – rare earths, cobalt, nickel, manganese, phosphorus, etc – are an essential resource for the development of the activities of technology companies and the manufacture of equipment for the ecological transition. Dependence on other countries entails a high risk of supply and acquisition cost, due to the growing international demand for these raw materials.

The MINETHIC project aims to recover these minerals – from various by-products and waste – with the necessary high levels of purity. The project, estimated to take 32 months to complete, has an initial budget of Є5 million. The companies participating in the consortium are the following:

  • Técnicas Reunidas, promoter and leader of the project, will research innovative technologies for the pre-treatment, concentration and purification of critical raw materials from mining by-products and urban and industrial waste, as well as their final application in catalysts. It will also carry out the design of recovery routes and their study on a larger scale
  • FCC Environment will analyse pre-treatment and concentration technologies for different fractions of urban and municipal waste that favour the extraction and purification of the critical raw materials present in them
  • Apria Systems will study the concentration and purification of metals from different mining by-products and urban and industrial waste
  • IDP will simulate and model the processes of pre-treatment, concentration and purification of elements to optimise these processes, reduce energy consumption and lower associated costs
  • IMA Magnets will bring its expertise in the implementation of recovered raw materials for the sustainable manufacture of magnets
  • Torrecid will investigate the reuse of recovered metal oxides for the synthesis of new components that are key to the ecological transition