Arias, Andrea; Fierro, Julio; Loureiro-Gammariello, Noelia; Martínez, Cristina; Ruíz, Maite

Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) are a list of 30 metals, minerals and natural materials, crucial economically and essential to produce a broad range of goods and applications, whose import dependency is close to 100%. Among these, Rare Earths, Platinum group metals (PGM) and magnesium are of particular interest because comprise strategic and growing sectors, such as renewable energy, high-tech application, automotive, etc. It is key to unlock unexploited sources of these raw materials to reduce dependency and strengthen diversity as well as ensure the secure supply of these materials and the competitiveness of the EU industries. With the main objective of recovering CRMs from wastes (bauxite residue, Mg-wastes and calcination byproducts, PGM process residues or low-grade ores) through a new sustainable and safe process, BIORECOVER project arises. This project is divided into two phases: i) study of a multistep process, mainly based on biotechnology, to achieve the target CRM with high recovery rate, selectivity and purity and ii) integration and selection of the best technologies. The obtained CRMs will be evaluated to guarantee the quality requirements for their reuse in different applications. Cost effective and environmentally friendly solutions will be combined with the flexibility and modularity concepts in the extraction and recycling of CRM. For verifying the sustainability, life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC) are well stablished methodologies, providing consistence of results making their optimal for comparative approaches. These tools will be used in the decision-making process for quantifying and improving the technologies. The developed process will be compared with conventional extractions. Finally, BIORECOVER implies zero liquid discharge by valorisation of residual streams making the overall process more environmentally and financially sustainable. The study is supported by EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation program N°821096