Winning of Strategic Metals from Tailings


Project description


Within the project REWITA, the recovery and re-processing of mining residues are examined in the light of newly identified potentials and the problems of environmental pollution and aftercare costs. The focus here is in addition to the mass metals particularly the economic strategic metals indium, gallium and cobalt.

In recent years, key actors of economy and policy have become aware of the strategic importance and partial shortage of certain metals. Examples of these are the elements indium, gallium and cobalt, which are essential for a variety of products. Examples include screens (indium), photovoltaic systems (indium / gallium), LEDs (gallium) and the battery and alloy production (cobalt). With respect to these elements, Germany currently depends completely on imports. Given the high importance of the elements for the processing industry, the usage of local resources could be a major contribution to securing some high-tech economy branches in Germany.

Mining, processing and smelter residues are found worldwide and represent a major environmental impact. However, many of these residues still contain considerable amounts of valuable metals due to inferior techniques in the past or differing production targets. These residues can now be of great worth. Although some practical examples exist, there has been little research regarding the reprocessing of one of the larges residue streams in the resource industry, the flotation tailings.

In the project REWITA, the project consortium aims at developing a method to minimize the environmental impact and aftercare costs of tailings ponds and allows the recovery of the remaining recyclables using the tailing ponds “Bollrich” (former mine Rammelsberg) in Goslar, Germany. The project includes analysis and modeling of the anthropogenic ore deposit, a detailed investigation of value and potentially harmful materials, the elaboration of a processing route (incl. hydrometallurgy) and an ecological, social and economic analysis of the planned endeavor.

The Institute of Mineral and Waste processing, Disposal and Geomechanics will develop the processing and hydrometallurgy route within the project. Here, the mass relevant recyclables will be considered (mainly barite) as well as the economically strategic metals indium, gallium and cobalt. Furthermore, significant amounts of silver, lead and zinc are expected (as a carrier of strategic metals).

Joint partners

  • Clausthaler Umwelttechnik-­‐Institut GmbH (CUTEC)
  • PPM Pure Metals GmbH (PPM)
  • Harz-Metall GmbH (HMG)
  • Stöbich Holding GmbH & Co.KG, (STÖBICH)
  • pdv software GmbH (PDV)
  • Prof. Burmeier Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH (BIG)
  • Bergbau Goslar GmbH (BBG, assoziierter Partner)
  • Technische Universität Clausthal (TUC)

    • Institut für Bergbau (IBB)
    • Institut für Endlagerforschung (IELF)
    • Institut für Aufbereitung, Deponietechnik und Geomechanik (IFAD)
    • Institut für Geotechnik und Markscheidewesen (IGMC)

Supported by

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung

Support Code: 033R136G



M.Sc. Felix Römer

Tel.: +49 5323-72-3716

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