SEEsand: Extraction of heavy rare earth elements (REE) from heavy mineral sands using hydrometallurgical processes

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sand are extracted annually for the rehabilitation of eroded beach areas or for other construction purposes in coastal protection. In the research project "SEEsand", the raw material was re-evaluated under the project management of G.E.O.S. and in cooperation with other partners. The project is sustainable in the best sense of the word.

The innovation: With a new technological approach, all valuable materials found in Baltic Sea sand are utilised. Quartz remains a building material, and by extracting rare earth elements and zirconium from heavy minerals for "green technologies", the value of the starting material sand has been increased considerably.

The potential of heavy minerals in the Baltic Sea sands was assessed and a process was developed for the extraction of zircon concentrates, from which the valuable materials rare earth elements, hafnium, titanium and zirconium were separated by leaching processes. The technical feasibility was demonstrated in a pilot test on a large sample of 200 tonnes of sand.


  • Research and development of the processing of the primary raw materials
  • Planning and execution of laboratory tests
  • Process design (upscaling) and process engineering planning
  • Sustainable resource cycle of the primary strategic raw materials



Das Projekt wurde gefördert durch das Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), im Rahmen des FONA r4-Programms „Innovative Technologien für Ressourceneffizienz“.