Success for the "recomine" project at the BHP Tailings Challenge

Success for the "recomine" project at the BHP Tailings Challenge

G.E.O.S. is a member of the project team and is responsible for the bio- and hydrometallurgical processing of recyclable materials

Together with the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, the Mining Academy (TU Bergakademie) Freiberg, the Research Institute for Leather and flexible multilayer polymer materials and the Sustainable Minerals Institute of the University of Queensland, G.E.O.S. has made it into the top 10 out of 153 teams in the „BHP-Tailings-Challenge.

The British-Australian raw materials company BHP (formerly Broken Hill Proprietary) launched an international competition to promote the development of innovative solutions for the utilisation of mining residues. The background to the competition is the worldwide occurrence of contaminated sites from processing waste from the mining industry. One of the aims is to reduce the size of copper mining waste dumps in the future. The residual sludge from the processing waste, known as tailings, can contain valuable materials in the form of non-recoverable residues as well as accompanying materials that can be utilised further. In addition, tailings also pose a risk as they contain toxic metals that are often released into the environment.

As a member of the team, G.E.O.S. is responsible for the bio- and hydrometallurgical processing of valuable materials and the production of adsorption minerals from waste solutions in this project. G.E.O.S. has already carried out several research projects in this field. All projects focused on extracting valuable elements such as copper, molybdenum and gallium from mining and industrial residues as well as immobilising pollutants such as arsenic. These elements can be extracted from tailings as valuable elements and minerals, but act as toxic substances in the environment when dissolved. G.E.O.S. develops customised processes to extract the remaining valuable elements and minerals and to remove the dissolved toxic substances using suitable economic methods. Physical, chemical and biological processes are used.

In the next step of the BHP Tailings Challenge, the recomine consortium will receive sample material from BHP and develop processes for the extraction and utilisation of the valuable materials. The ten selected teams will compete against each other in summer 2021 with the presentation of their experimental results. Three of these concepts will then have the opportunity to demonstrate their approaches on site in the next stage of the BHP Tailings Challenge.