Orange rocks, Copper mine

Project: Selective biorecovery of critical raw materials from primary and secondary sources (Biorecover)

The world’s demand for metals is increasing all the time while the available stocks are dwindling. This project will develop the industrial biotechnology of ‘biomining’ to extract critical raw materials.

Facts about the project

Project name
Development of an innovative sustainable strategy for selective biorecovery of critical raw materials from primary and secondary sources (Biorecover).
Project manager
Mark Dopson
Other project members
Nathan van Wyk, Magnus Ståhle, Linnaeus University
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University, CETIM (Spain; coordinator), Mytilineos (Greece), Magnesitas Navarra S.A. (Spain), University of Copenhagen (Denmark), University of Coimbra (Portugal), The university of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), University of Cape Town (South Africa), Tecnidas Reunidas (Spain), Alga Energy (Spain), Johnson Mattey (United Kingdom), Francisco Albero S.A.U. (Spain), Vertech Group (France), LGI Consulting (France)
EU Horizon 2020
From 2019-11-01 to 2022-10-31
Microbiology (Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences)
Research group
Systems Biology of Microorganisms Research Group

Flag: Co-funded by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Union

More about the project

The project Biorecover will investigate new sustainable and safe biotechnologies for the selective extraction of a range of critical raw materials from secondary & primary sources. These will be rare earth metals from bauxite residue, magnesium from low grade mineral wastes and by-products, and platinum group metals from flotation wastes. To this end, Biorecover will be based on the integration of three main stages to reach the expected targets: (1) Remove the major impurities present in raw materials to make the target metals available. (2) Mobilize these metals through microorganisms to get a leachate enriched with the desired metals. (3) To recover the metals with high selectivity & purity. Downstream processes will be also studied for the reuse of the metals (brakes pads, oxygen sensors, powder Mg, & catalysts).

The different stages of the processes provide a modular capacity increasing its flexibility. The awareness, trust, and acceptance by society for the importance of the raw materials will be addressed by a communication campaign and public perception studies.

To achieve this ambitious project, a multidisciplinary consortium covering the whole value chain (from suppliers to end users) will be involved.

The project is part of the research in the research group Systems Biology of Microorganisms Research Group and in Linnaeus University Centre for Ecology and Evolution in Microbial model Systems (EEMiS).