The primary objective of METGROW+ is to create, demonstrate and validate an industrially viable, flexible New Metallurgical Systems Toolbox, which allows to smartly combine pyro-, hydro-, electro-, bio-, solvo and ionometallurgical unit operations, as well all residual matrix valorisation technologies, to valorise EU’s low-grade, polymetallic primary and secondary resources. The toolbox allows producing innovative, systems based, metallurgical solutions to recover metals and to valorise the residual matrix, while minimising energy consumption and the overall environmental footprint. In order to develop, use and validate such an integrated, sustainable Metallurgical Systems Toolbox, the following specific objectives have been identified:

  • To develop a Decision Support Matrix for the smart use of the METGROW+ New Metallurgical Systems Toolbox, which is based on comprehensive information concerning the economic, environmental, technical and social impact assessment of the different “metallurgical unit operations” developed within the project;
  • To adapt pretreatment metallurgical unit operations to make them applicable for low-grade complex polymetallic, primary and secondary resources;
  • To develop new metallurgical unit operations for metal extraction, with a focus on economically important (Ni, Co, Zn, Cu, Fe) and critical metals (In, Ga, Ge, Cr, Sb and Co). The new unit operations are: “hydroflex”, bioleaching, solvoleaching and plasma-pyro”;
  • To further improve and/or develop new metallurgical unit operations for metal recovery from the preceding metal extraction step. The metal recovery approaches are: physicochemical separation (including supported liquid membranes and Supported Ionic Liquid Phases), biosorption and –precipitation, and electrowinning;
  • To further improve and/or develop unit operations for residual matrix valorisation as a basis for downstream activities. Specifically, technologies for supplementary cementitious materials, and inorganic polymers (geopolymers) are developed and tailored for low-grade resources in order to respect a zero-waste approach;
  • To validate the created New Metallurgical Systems Toolbox, combining different metallurgical unit operations for a given low-grade resource type, through pilot activities conducted at the METGROW+ partner facilities. The pilots are performed for the selected low-grade primary and secondary resources families: laterites (at Outotec and IMN), Fe-rich sludges (at Tecnalia and Outotec), Fine-grained Cr-rich sludges (at JMR), fayalite (at Tecnalia)