Hydrometallurgical extraction of strategic metals from saxonian mining dumps

The FONA projects "SMSB", "Ecometals" and "Re-Mining" pursue the goal of extracting valuable materials such as copper, zinc or indium remaining in mining residues (dumps, tailings) and at the same time removing contaminated dump material.

To this end, G.E.O.S. carried out extensive hydrometallurgical laboratory and pilot plant tests on the microbiological leaching (bioleaching) of the tailings and the subsequent extraction of valuable elements by means of liquid-liquid extraction and electrolysis, as well as the removal of contaminants using ion exchange and precipitation processes. The technology developed was scaled up and housed as a demonstration plant in 20-inch sea containers to enable the plant to be subsequently relocated to different stockpile sites.


  • Research and development of hydrometallurgical processes
  • Planning and realisation of laboratory tests: liquid-liquid extraction, copper electrolysis, bioleaching, ion exchangers, precipitation, flotation
  • Process design (upscaling) and process engineering planning
  • Plant planning, structural realisation, documentation and operation of the demonstration plant



The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the funding measure r+Impuls - Innovative Technologies for Resource Efficiency - Impulses for Industrial Resource Efficiency, within the framework programme Research for Sustainable Development (FONA).


More information on the project here.