Nav: Home

Tailings as raw material storage for copper and building materials

November 14, 2016

Copper and other non-ferrous metals cannot be fully broken down in mines, and residues of the valuable metals remain even after the metallurgical processes that follow. Residues are stored on tailings. The new German-Polish research project NOMECOR has two aims, namely to reclaim the metals as well as to make the mineral components of the tailings usable for cement production. The Federal Ministry for Research and Education is funding the research project for three years with approximately 500,000 euros. This is coordinated by the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf as well as the Polish Institute for Non-ferrous Metallurgy (IMN).

"The project intends to improve access to copper, a socio-economically important bulk metal," says project coordinator Dr Stefan Dirlich from the Freiberg Helmholtz Institute. Copper is expensive and in great demand, as it is used for electric wiring and machines, as well as for alloys such as brass or bronze. However, mining it is becoming increasingly difficult as the metal content in the ores is very low nowadays. The project is targeting several aims simultaneously as far as sustainability is concerned: greater resource efficiency by recycling the metals from tailings, and regaining natural areas by reducing tailings. The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the G.E.O.S. Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH and the Polish enterprise Hydrogeometal PK are also involved in the project.

Microorganisms eat copper

Bio-technicians working at the Helmholtz Institute want to use microorganisms to remove copper and other valuable metals from tailings. The research partners at IMN and GEOS intend to test the chemical methods for this. Furthermore, they will investigate how pure metals separate from dissolved copper ores and how further residues can be minimised. In this project, scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology want to investigate whether mineral tailing deposits are suitable for the production of cement.

With this project, the Helmholtz Institute in Freiberg is enhancing its research into recycling reusable materials from mining waste sites. Apart from natural mineral deposits, these may become important secondary sources of raw materials in future, especially as there are tailings everywhere in the world where mining was or is carried out.

Raw material samples from Poland

The project partners want to work with sample materials from a flotation tank which is currently being developed in a Polish mine. All residues which result during the enrichment (flotation) of copper and other valuable metals to a metal concentrate are deposited in such pools. The residues eventually pile up in tailings; their volumes are many times greater than the amount of metal extracted. About 2.4 million tons of copper still remain in tailings of non-ferrous mines in Poland, which also includes copper. Only coal mines have a greater number of tailings.

The kick-off for the NOMECOR research project recently took place in the Polish town of Poznan as part of the status seminar on STAIR - the programme for German-Polish research on sustainability. All funded programmes to date were introduced at this event. NOMECOR is part of the second round of funding and the only research project in the field of resource efficiency.
-end-
For more information:

Dr. Stefan Dirlich | Project coordinator
Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology at HZDR
Phone: +49 351 260-4413| E-Mail: s.dirlich@hzdr.de

Dr. Katrin Pollmann | Senior scientist
Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology at HZDR
Phone: +49 351 260-2946| E-Mail: k.pollmann@hzdr.de

Media contact:

Anja Weigl | Press officer
Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology at HZDR
Phone: +49 351 260-4427| E-Mail: a.weigl@hzdr.de

The Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) conducts research in the sectors energy, health, and matter. The HZDR has been a member of the Helmholtz Association, Germany's largest research organization, since 2011. It has four locations (Dresden, Leipzig, Freiberg, Grenoble) and employs about 1,100 people - approximately 500 of whom are scientists, including 150 doctoral candidates.

The Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) pursues the objective of developing innovative technologies for the economy so that mineral and metalliferous raw materials can be made available and used more efficiently and recycled in an environmentally friendly manner. The HIF was founded in 2011, belongs to Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf and is cooperating closely with TU Bergakademie Freiberg.

Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf

Related Technology Articles:

Post-lithium technology
Next-generation batteries will probably see the replacement of lithium ions by more abundant and environmentally benign alkali metal or multivalent ions.
Rethinking the role of technology in the classroom
Introducing tablets and laptops to the classroom has certain educational virtues, according to Annahita Ball, an assistant professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, but her research suggests that tech has its limitations as well.
The science and technology of FAST
The Five hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), located in a radio quiet zone, with the targets (e.g., radio pulsars and neutron stars, galactic and extragalactic 21-cm HI emission).
AI technology could help protect water supplies
Progress on new artificial intelligence (AI) technology could make monitoring at water treatment plants cheaper and easier and help safeguard public health.
Transformative technology
UC Davis neuroscientists have developed fluorescence sensors that are opening a new era for the optical recording of dopamine activity in the living brain.
Do the elderly want technology to help them take their medication?
Over 65s say they would find technology to help them take their medications helpful, but need the technology to be familiar, accessible and easy to use, according to research by Queen Mary University of London and University of Cambridge.
Technology detecting RNase activity
A KAIST research team of Professor Hyun Gyu Park at Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering developed a new technology to detect the activity of RNase H, a RNA degrading enzyme.
Taking technology to the next level
Physicists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) developed a new hybrid integrated platform, promising to be a more advanced alternative to conventional integrated circuits.
How technology use affects at-risk adolescents
More use of technology led to increases in attention, behavior and self-regulation problems over time for adolescents already at risk for mental health issues, a new study from Duke University finds.
Hold-up in ventures for technology transfer
The transfer of technology brings ideas closer to commercialization. The transformation happens in several steps, such as invention, innovation, building prototypes, production, market introduction, market expansion, after sales services.
More Technology News and Technology Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.