DBPapers
DOI: 10.5593/sgem2017/13/S03.092

RECOVERY AND RECYCLING OF CRITICAL METALS - A STRATEGIC PRIORITY FOR EUROPEAN UNION

A. Butu, M. Butu, G. Fidler, S. Rodino
Monday 11 September 2017 by Libadmin2017

References: 17th International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference SGEM 2017, www.sgem.org, SGEM2017 Conference Proceedings, ISBN 978-619-7105-00-1 / ISSN 1314-2704, 29 June - 5 July, 2017, Vol. 17, Issue 13, 725-732 pp, DOI: 10.5593/sgem2017/13/S03.092

ABSTRACT

According to the European Commission, critical raw materials are defined as ‘those which display a particularly high risk of supply shortage in the next 10 years and which are particularly important for the value chain’. Therefore, when considering a raw material criticality, two main parameters are taken into account: its economic importance and supply risk. Technologies which a decade ago were considered high tech became current today, and raw materials once considered as minor, have gained importance.
Particularly, the industry demand for critical metals is growing, because they are used in modern and high-tech frontier technologies that include low carbon systems. Critical metals are indispensable in many industrial applications, in construction, aviation, photovoltaic cells, cell phones, renewable energy, LED Monitors, computers, automotive-hybrid and electric vehicles. Most of them are obtained from primary sources which are rapidly decreasing as a result of urbanization, increased standards of living and population explosion.
Recently, political, economic and research initiatives are undertaken to mitigate the risks associated with critical metals supply. These actions resulted from the price volatility, the extraction costs and from concerns regarding the future availability of critical materials in general, and critical metals, also. Development of new strategies to source critical metals towards setting up of innovative mining technologies is the key for supporting the EU industry. This can be achieved by recovery of these metals from mine tailings or by recycling from waste electronic equipment. Several reports indicated as a possible solution the use of microorganisms with recovery potential in bioleaching and bioaccumulation of critical metals. Therefore, further research is needed for the identification of microbial consortia with practical application in the design of biotechnological processes for the extraction of critical metals.

Keywords: biomining, critical metals, circular economy, urban mining