The project, called "REVIVING - revisiting mining tailings to innovate metals biorecovery", which has received 1.2 million Euros of funding from the European Union (EU), has as partners researchers and companies linked to the mining sector in France, Romania and Portugal, the UC reveals in a note sent to the Lusa agency.
According to Paula Morais, professor at the Faculty of Science and Technology at the UC and coordinator of the project, REVIVING "will study the use of microbial communities of their own waste in leaching valuable metals, addressing the problem of returning waste to the production cycle and thus supporting the transition of the EU to a circular economy".
In general, a new concept of biolixiviation will be explored. This new concept, the researcher from the Centre for Mechanical Engineering, Materials and Processes (CEMMPRE) at the University, adds, "consists of the manipulation of the microbiome of waste (a group of microbial communities that reside in the waste) and hydrometallurgy with the application of negative pressure.
The researchers will use the new molecular techniques "Next -Generation Sequencing" and will study the "release of metal after bioprocessing, using negative pressure as an innovative strategy for metal extraction and as a way of overcoming the heterogeneity of solid phase material (or materials)", explains Paula Morais.
At the end of the three-year project, a pilot system will be implemented in the largest tungsten mine in Europe - the Panasqueira mine (in the Covilhã area) - with the aim of transforming toxic mining waste into raw material from a circular economy perspective.
The professor and researcher also stresses that in Europe "more than 300 million tonnes of mining and extractive waste are produced annually".
Worldwide, she adds, "the demand for metals, both in quantity and diversity, has grown due to their use in technology in general and particularly in the modern, environmentally friendly technologies of the European industrial fabric".
As part of the launch of this project, a webinar on "Raw Materials, a key factor in the support of European Green Deal" will take place on 25 January at 2pm.
The initiative brings together experts from various fields and, says the UC, aims to discuss how new bio-based technologies - "nature based" - can help to obtain raw materials from secondary resources, thus contributing to the objectives of the European Green Deal.
Registration for the 'webinar' can be made at https://forms.gle/DsK5ttyMFa2c6Ew87