Improving the European security of supply of critical Rare Earth Elements (REEs)
Many REEs are crucial to development of ‘green technologies’, to the European economy and to the objectives of the EU’s Strategic Energy Technology Plan and related climate goals. Amongst the critical raw materials, REEs have very low recycling rates (less than 1%). Therefore, REEcover aims to retrieve the REE elements with highest risk of being unavailable for future development of lowcarbon energy technologies: Neodymium, Dysprosium, Terbium and Yttrium.
Demonstrate and assess the viability and potential for two routes on two different types of currently deposited industrial waste
REEcover will develop, demonstrate and assess economic viability of recovering REEs from two types of industrial waste: tailings from the iron ore industry, representing high volume, but low concentration of REE, as well as magnetic waste material from WEEE recycling industry, representing low volume, but high concentration of REEs. Since REEs from raw materials largely end up in WEEEwaste or in mining waste, instead of being deposited in tailing dams or by smelters as slags or dust, they can become valuable REE-based products for further use.
Innovate and research two different routes for recovery of REEs
Two recovery routes will be investigated to recover the REEs as Rare Earth Oxides (REO) or Rare Earth Oxy-Carbides (REOC) in electrolytic reduction: hydrometallurgical upgrade/oxyfluoride electrolysis and pyrometallurgical upgrade/ oxycarbide electrolysis.
Strengthen European SME positions in the REE production and recovery value chain
The REE recycling market is expected to have many small scale WEEE recyclers, (like Indumetal) collecting, sorting and physically separating out magnetic material and deliver more concentrated waste streams to specialised companies dealing with the treatment and recovery technology. Large mining companies like LKAB will find an additional income stream in their secondary raw material – their tailingsby selling them to SMEs that can further process either or both of the input streams, like LCM, ChemConserve, Elemetal and Metsol. REEcover promotes competitiveness and innovation for SME’s, while developing commercial drive over the value chain, achieving cost effective routes for REE-recovery. In every process step, REEcover couples research partners to leading SME’s, supporting knowledge and technology development in required areas.