4 projects receive funding from ERA-MIN pilot calls

Results of the ERA-MIN Joint Call 2013 on Sustainable and responsible supply of primary resources

A. General information on ERA-MIN
ERA-MIN is an ERA-NET, a network of research funding organizations (ministries/ funding agencies) in Europe to promote the coordination of the national funding programs in the field of non-energy raw materials.
ERA-MIN is a FP7 project funded by the European Commission, which will run for 4 years (2011-2015). More information is available on the ERA-MIN Website, at: http://www.era-min-eu.org/.

B. Results of ERA-MIN Joint Call 2013
Five ERA-MIN funding agencies: TEKES (Finland), VINNOVA (Sweden), NCBR (Poland), FCT (Portugal) and UEFISCDI (Romania) committed together a total of €3.9 million of national public funds to support financially their national participants in the selected transnational R&D proposals submitted to the first ERA-MIN Joint Call 2013 from 30th of April 2013 until June, the 27th, 2013.
The scope of this first Joint Call 2013 was needs-driven research on "sustainable and responsible supply of (non-energy) primary resources", in the following five sub-topic areas:
1. Exploration,
2. Extraction,
3. Mine closure and rehabilitation,
4. Minerals processing,
5. Metallurgy.
Eighteen full proposals were submitted in total from 70 participants. Out of the 18 proposals, 14 passed the eligibility check (Figure 1).with total costs of € 13.289.524 and requested funding of € 2.995.775, distributed across all sub-topic areas. The distribution of the eligible full proposals by the main sub-topic area and by country is described in Figure 2. Nine proposals targeted more than one topic sub-area and three proposals addressed metallurgy as a second/third topic sub-area.
Figure 1. Process diagram for the ERA-MIN Joint Call 2013.

Figure 2. Distribution of the submitted eligible full proposals by the main topic sub-area and by country in the ERA-MIN Joint Call 2013
In terms of country participation, there was an oversubscription rate for all countries when comparing the requested funding with the indicative committed budget, which shows a high interest in research to address material scarcity. The two Nordic countries had a requested budget of less than twice the budget, while in the rest of the countries the participation was more than three times the national budgets (Figure 3).

Figure 3 – Distribution of the requested funding in the eligible full proposals by country in comparison with the indicative committed national budgets by country in the ERA-MIN Joint Call 2013.
In terms of industrial participation, industrial companies accounted for almost a quarter of the participants to the first ERA-MIN Joint Call (2013), as shown in the Figure 4 below:

Figure 4. Distribution of participants in submitted proposals, by organization type in the ERA-MIN Joint Call 2013.
As regards the role of participant organizations per country, the table below shows an overview of the preferences.
Country Participation as partner Participation as coordinator
Finland 14 7
Poland 13 2
Portugal 20 2
Romania 11 1
Sweden 9 2
Ireland 1
Not applicable
Germany 1
Norway 1
Total 70 14
Based on the recommendation of an international peer-review evaluation and on the available national budgets, four collaborative transnational proposals were selected for funding, corresponding to total costs of €4.486.309. The projects' duration is between 2 and 3 years, starting in 2014. The requested funding of € 2.768.032 € was granted to four successful projects (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Total costs/Funding granted vs. committed budget for the successful projects in ERA-MIN Joint Call 2013.
NOTE: For Finland, the funding of 1.000.000 euro was considered in this analysis, since the other 1.000.000 of the committed budget was specifically earmarked for industrial organizations.

Figure 6. Distribution of the four selected funded projects by the main topic sub-area and by country in the ERA-MIN Joint Call 2013.
In terms of industrial participation, industrial companies accounted for two of the participants in the selected funded projects of the first ERA-MIN Joint Call 2013, as shown in the Figure 7. One of these companies is an SME.

Figure 7. Distribution of participants in selected funded projects, by organization type in the ERA-MIN Joint Call 2013.
The total success rate of the Joint Call 2013 is 22.2 % (4 funded /18 submitted proposals). When considering the 14 eligible proposals the success rate increases to 28.6%.
In order to promote the networking among the funded consortia, a joint Kick-off meeting for the funded projects is going to be organized at the ERA-MIN Stakeholder's Forum on 25-27th March 2014 in Budapest.

C. Summaries of the funded projects:
1. MAXI – Mineral Analysis using X-ray Imaging
Sub-topic areas: Minerals processing
The main objective of the research is to improve material analysis efficiency, both in terms of material recognition accuracy and speed of detection. XRF spectroscopy is widely used in production plants and exploration of mining companies, both as handheld instruments and in conveyor belt analysis subsystems. However, current industrial XRF systems have poor spatial resolution: they typically are unable to localize particles with dimensions below 100mm.
The goal of the project is to improve the selectivity at least with one order of magnitude, down to about 10mm spatial resolution.
Another shortage of current industrial XRF systems is the fact that they only analyse the surface of the sample, ignoring most of the volume. This gives an erroneous estimate of the element concentration, especially for elements with uneven distribution, such as precious metals. The goal here is to read XRF-signals from the whole sample volume by using high energy X-ray generators and detector arrays.

Teknologian tutkimuskeskus VTT (Finland)
Orexplore AB (Sweden)
Advacam Oy (Finland)
Geological Institute of Romania (Romania)

Total costs: €1.050.000
Funding granted: €482.334
Duration: 3 years (2014 – 2017)

2. GEOSULF - Utilization of sulphide mine tailings in geopolymer materials
Sub-topics areas: Mine closure and rehabilitation, Minerals processing
The GEOSULF project aims to sustainable utilization of sulphide mine tailings in geopolymer materials. Three Universities from Finland, Poland and Portugal will develop geopolymerization recipes, geopolymer aggregates and concrete products utilizing sulphide mine tailings provided by Finnish and Polish gold and copper mines. In geopolymerization, alumina and silica rich materials are activated with alkali solution. The formed geopolymer is a three-dimensional amorphous network that can immobilize hazardous components into its structure. The project aims at deep understanding on geopolymerization of mine tailings into a form in which harmful substances cannot dissolve. The project involves four RTD parts:
1. Understanding of geopolymerization by model sulphide and heavy metal components;
2. Development of geopolymer recipes and aggregates from mine tailings;
3. Development of novel geopolymer based products like mine backfills and concrete bricks;
4. Environmental assessment of products developed.
The project results in new treatment technologies, mining practices and novel products. Development of new methods and products will provide new business opportunities for companies and more jobs in EU and promote exportation business possibilities from EU to other countries. To roll out research results across all EU member states will promote generation of new European researcher network in the area of mine tailings utilization.
University of Oulu (Finland) - Coordinator
University of Aveiro (Portugal)
AGH University of Science and Technology (Poland)

Total costs: €929.423
Funding granted: €605.536
Duration: 3 years (2014 – 2017)

3. CELMIN - UTILISATION OF GREEN CHEMICALS IN NON-ENERGY EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES: Preparation of modified nanofibrillar celluloses (NFC) for flotation, flocculation and dewatering, and water purification in mining industry
Sub-topics areas: Extraction, Mine closure and rehabilitation, Minerals processing
Although the majority of dissolved solid substances in waters originate from ore, a small amount of pollutants comes from oil-based chemicals used in flotation as well as other metal concentration processes and dewatering, possibly creating toxicity problems when released in effluents. Thus, the purification of waters coming from both extraction and mineral processing during mining activities is needed. Mine-closure and rehabilitation issues have to be taken into account because acid drainages are also generated at abandoned mine sites. The CELMIN project aims to develop concepts for environmental-friendly effective green chemicals by the chemical modification of nanofibrillar celluloses (NFCs) to be functional in mining applications responsible for dissolved and suspended solids load.
Four different uses are studied:
1) Use of hydrophobized NFCs as a collector in ore and mineral flotation.
2) Use of anionized, cationized and hydrophobized NFCs as a dewatering agent in concentrate and tailings.
3) Use of anionized and cationized NFCs as a flocculant in suspended solids removal from mining, process and seepage waters.
4) Use of anionized NFCs as adsorbent in removal of heavy metals and ammonium from waters.
The results of the CELMIN project are expected to increase sustainability of primary non-energy resource supply by decreasing water pollution of mining industry, lower carbon footprint by using renewable raw materials instead of a fossil feedstock in chemical production and lessen the concern about environmental issues by using biodegradable chemicals in dressing of ores and water purification.

University of Oulu (Finland) - Coordinator
IST LISBON (Portugal)
NUCBM (Romania)
Sibelco Lda (Portugal)
Sojitz Beralt Tin & Wolfram S.A (Portugal)
Total costs: €630.687
Funding granted: €329.912
Duration: 3 years (2014 – 2017)

4. SUSMIN - Tools for sustainable gold mining in EU
Sub-topic areas: Mineral processing
Gold mining is a chance for Europe to increase economic development, but its challenge is eco-efficiency due to low grade of gold in the ore, its extraction methods (e.g. cyanide) and association often with arsenopyrite. Due to its high mobility and toxicity, arsenic is problematic in mine wastes and waters, but it also complicates the recovery of gold. Social licence for gold mining is often more challenging by respect to other mineral resources. Thus, economically viable gold mining is also dependent on environmental and social sustainability. The objective of the project is to support environmentally, socially and economically sustainable gold production within EU to decrease import dependency. The project identifies, tests and improves technological solutions for gold exploration, mineral processing, water treatment, waste management and environmental impact assessment. In addition, project aims to develop tools for enhancing corporate social responsibility, social acceptance and designing postmining development. Research and development measures will be carried out cooperatively between partners and industrial companies in case studies at participating countries. The project provides new sustainable technologies for exploration, selective gold recovery with decreased environmental impacts, alternative reagents for cyanide, advanced adsorbents for water treatment and methods for sustainable waste management such as paste technology. With the environmental risk assessment and better knowledge of geochemistry and long-term transformation of the contaminants in wastes and mine waters, the mining companies are able to predict and prevent the impacts to the surrounding environment. Results will be combined to reports and recommendations for mine industry and will be useful for the industrial partners and have national and transnational impact.
Geological Survey of Finland (Finland) - Coordinator
Luleå University of Technology (Sweden)
Geological Institute of Romania (Romania)
Wroclaw University of Technology (Poland)
Babes-Bolyai University (Romania)
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland, own funding)
University of Porto (Portugal)

Total costs: €1.937.000
Funding granted: 1.236.602
Duration: 3 years (2014 – 2017)

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