EXCEED EU-funded project
Start date: 1 January 2023 - End date: 31 December 2026
Cost-effective, sustainable and responsible extraction routes for recovering distinct critical metals and industrial minerals as by-products from key European hard-rock lithium projects
Europe is 100% reliant on imports of Li for the Li-ion batteries that are central to decarbonising the energy and mobility sectors. Some fraction of our needs can come from recycling the batteries already in use, but realistically, primary supply will still have to cover 90% of the Li requirement. Paradoxically, Europe hosts 27 Li hard-rock (pegmatite & Rare-Metal Granite) deposits, representing vast lithium resources (8.8–21.7 Mt Li2O). However, the identified potential remains largely untouched, which is partly due to a reluctant attitude towards primary (Li) mining in Europe. Europeans are very enthusiastic about EVs, but rather less so about the necessary mining & refining of Li-bearing ores to realise them.
By upscaling and integrating results from earlier projects, EXCEED’s 15 partners develop a new mining paradigm, i.e. zero-waste, multi-metal/mineral mining. This will be combined with sustainable mineral processing to provide us with additional critical raw materials (CRMs: rare earths, Nb, Ta, W, Be) and industrial minerals (quartz, feldspar and micas), coming from 4 lithium mines (as case studies) in Finland (Keliber), Portugal (Savannah), France (Imerys) and the UK (Imerys).
The project adopts a mineral-centric, integrated methodology based on an innovative predictive and forensic geometallurgy, supported by enhanced in-line characterisation tools and the development of digital twins. EXCEED develops, upscales and demonstrates cost-effective, sustainable and responsible extraction routes for recovering CRMs and industrial minerals (the latter for use as low-carbon ceramics and cements), as by-products from the 4 Li-bearing hard-rock ores.
EXCEED’s long-term impact includes the replication of the EXCEED solutions to the other 23 European pegmatite and Rare-Metal Granite deposits, thus boosting domestic CRM production (up to 21.7 Mt Li2O & 1.5 Mt of other CRMs), in a way that gains public support by respecting the environment and creating local jobs.
- Recover by-product CRMs and industrial minerals during Li production from LCT-pegmatite and (low-grade) Rare-Metal Granite (RMG) hard-rock deposits through a mineral-centric, integrated approach based on increased orebody knowledge, the use of predictive & forensic geometallurgy and the development of online technologies to provide real-time mineralogical information for process optimisation
- Develop new, energy-, material- and cost-efficient flowsheets for recovering CRMs (Nb, Ta, W, Nd/Pr, Be), Sn and industrial minerals (quartz, feldspar, mica) as by-products from two LCT-pegmatite ores (Rapasaari/Syväjärvi, Keliber Oy; Mina do Barroso, Savannah), two Rare Metal Granite ores (St Austell, Beauvoir) and monazite tailings (St Austell’s kaolin operations)
- Valorise the mineral side-streams (quartz, feldspar, mica) from processing of LCT-pegmatite & RMG ores, as secondary raw materials in construction applications (alkali-activated & supplementary cements; ceramics; lightweight aggregates (LWA) for concrete), ensuring safety & environmental feasibility in line with standardisation practices
- Remove any PHEs (U/Th) and, subsequently, separate and refine the distinct (non-Li) critical metals (Ta, Nb, W, Nd/Pr, Be) and other valuable metals (Sn) that are present in the CRM-bearing concentrates obtained from mineral processing of LCT-pegmatite and RMG ores
- Integrate EXCEED’s innovative solutions into near-zero-waste, multi-metal/mineral mining and refining process concepts and to demonstrate them in pilots at TRL6–7, supported by the integration of the digital twins
- Make a novel, integrated Life-Cycle, Techno-Economic and Human Impact Assessment, which will incorporate Social License to Operate (SLO) principles for the newly developed, mineral-centric, integrated processing routes for LCT-pegmatites and RMGs
- Develop a framework of best corporate practices to achieve a SLO, thereby improving the public awareness, acceptance and trust in next-generation, zero-waste mining and sustainable metallurgical processing in Europe
- Cluster EXCEED with projects from the HORIZON-CL4-2022-RESILIENCE-01-07 call, the previous HORIZON-CL5-D2-01-01 call and related calls from the Destination “Increased autonomy in key strategic value chains for resilient industry” as well as on-going H2020 projects on next-generation batteries (call H2020-BAT-2019) + contributing to Batteries Europe and the objectives of the European Raw Materials Alliance
- Communicate in a gender-balanced way the relevance of EXCEED and disseminate the project results to diverse audiences, while improving the public awareness, acceptance and trust with respect to next-generation, zero-waste mining and sustainable metallurgical processing of Li-pegmatite/RMG hard-rock deposits and mines in Europe
- Exploit the results of the project and increase the competitiveness of the Li-producing industry in Europe as well as create new business models for multi-metal (CRM/)/mineral mining of LCT-pegmatite and RMG/greisen deposits
- Develop an effective, transparent and comprehensive administrative, financial, legal, data, ethics and material-flow management to ensure the project’s successful outcome