The Raw Materials Group brings together researchers from different fields of expertise focusing on three main areas: primary and secondary mineral raw materials; primary and secondary non-mineral raw materials and; eco-innovative materials. Challenges are tackled in a circular economy framework taking into account sustainability and efficiency of the resources, mostly in international partnerships.
Our research embraces the 5 stages of the mining life-cycle: Exploration, Extraction, Processing,Metallurgy, Mine Closure and Remediation.
We focus on:
- The development of new tools for discovery and quantification of exploitable resources, including geophysics and remote sensing;
- The development of new methods and technologies to handle the characterization and management of complex geological environments, including fast monitoring and updating of resources, uncertainty and risk assessment, geo-mechanical modelling and development of eco-efficient systems for mine design;
- The development of hydro and bio-hydrometallurgical solutions for processing ore and mine wastes that are more efficient in terms of recovery and less harmful to the environment.
Also, with the aim of reuse, reduce and recycle, in the areas of non-mineral raw materials, research is focused on developing processes, such as physical separation and biomass liquefaction to obtain new materials and improving their performance from wastes and by-products from construction, electronics, forest and food related industry, in a strong interaction with Environment and Energy Groups.
Finally, the most recent area of research is dedicated to the development of eco-innovative materials, with low carbon footprint and environmental sustainability, as well as economic and innovative potential, relying on new methods and technologies, such as CO2 adsorption processes and microencapsulation of catalysts or toxic products.