Ecomining - recycling waste metals
VTT’s Ecomining technology is a biological process developed for extracting the waste materials from the mining, metal, steel and recycling industries, allowing the environmental impact of the waste to be reduced and the metals recycled.
The easiest metals to extract are iron, zinc, nickel, cobalt and copper. Metal yields differ according to the type of waste. For example, the copper refinery slag formed as a by-product of copper production contains 0.35 per cent copper, of which 60 to 100 per cent can be recovered depending on the leaching conditions. VTT’s solution improves the recyclability and final disposal of the waste. At best, after the metals have been extracted the waste can be utilised, for example, in earthworks or road construction.
The Ecomining method is based on microbes leaching metals. In natural conditions, certain microbes are able to leach metals from minerals into a soluble form. Bioleaching uses natural microbes, which can be found, for example,on mining sites. These are completely harmless to humans. The microbes require a low-pH living environment, which means they would not survive in normal living conditions.
EARTO, the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations, has granted the Ecomining innovation an honourable mention.
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