UK-based battery materials and recycling company Altilium Metals has secured over £700,000 in innovation funding from the UK government for two collaborative research initiatives focused on recovering copper and rare earth elements from mine waste. The projects, conducted in partnership with CPI and Camborne School of Mines, aim to develop environmentally friendly processes for recycling battery metals and rare earth elements from mine tailings.
Altilium intends to leverage mine waste, or tailings, controlled by the company in Europe for both projects, aligning with the goal of transitioning to a circular economy. The focus is on mitigating waste, reducing the need for new mining projects, and minimizing geographical impacts. Rather than extracting metals from untapped mineral resources, the projects aim to recover copper, iron, aluminum, and other metals from existing mine waste, providing a sustainable supply for the UK battery industry.
The first project, titled ‘ReTail: Recovery of copper, aluminium and other battery metals,' will investigate the feasibility and environmental impact of processing tailings from Altilium's European site to extract copper, aluminum, and other battery materials. The 12-month project is conducted in collaboration with CPI.
The second project, named ‘ReREE: Recovery of rare earth elements,' will explore the recovery of rare earth elements from mine tailings using innovative hydrometallurgical processes. This recycling-focused project is a feasibility study conducted in partnership with the Camborne School of Mines.
Altilium's Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Christian Marston, emphasized the company's commitment to pushing the boundaries of green technologies for a sustainable energy transition. Reprocessing mine waste not only reduces the environmental impact of traditional mining but also provides a sustainable solution to meet the increasing demands for copper and rare earth elements while fostering economic growth.
The announcement aligns closely with the UK's newly unveiled battery strategy, which prioritizes the development of a local supply chain. Altilium Metals has an ongoing collaboration with ABB, and this initiative contributes to the broader industry focus on recycling battery and electric vehicle materials for resource recovery. Notably, another UK-based company, Recyclus, recently opened a facility in October dedicated to the large-scale recycling of batteries.