Securing the sustainable access to raw materials, including metals, industrial minerals, wood- and rubber-based, construction and forest-based raw materials, and particularly Critical Raw Materials (CRM), is of high importance for the EU economy. Complex primary and secondary resources contain many different raw materials. Their processing, reuse, recycling and recovery schemes are complex and imply different steps, ranging from collection, logistics, sorting and separation to cleaning, refining and purification of materials.

The challenge for industry is to scale up promising raw materials production technologies and to demonstrate that raw materials can be produced in an innovative and sustainable way in order to make sure that research and innovation end up on the market, to strengthen the competitiveness of the European raw materials industries, meet ambitious energy and climate targets for 2030, minimise environmental impacts and risks, and gain the trust of EU citizens in the raw materials sector.

This specific challenge addresses the development of "innovative pilot actions", which is one of the major targets of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials.

Scope:

Actions should develop and demonstrate innovative pilots for the clean and sustainable production of non-energy, non-agricultural raw materials in the EU from primary and/or secondary sources finishing at Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 6-7.

All actions should contribute to achieving the targets of the EIP on Raw Materials, particularly in terms of innovative pilot actions on processing and/or recycling for the innovative production of raw materials, and to building the EU knowledge base of primary and secondary raw materials by feeding into the EC Raw Materials Information System, RMIS. Actions should also contribute to improving the awareness of relevant external stakeholders and the general public across the EU about the importance of raw materials for society, the challenges related to their supply within the EU and about proposed solutions which could help to improve society's acceptance of and trust in sustainable raw materials production in the EU.

All actions should facilitate the market uptake of solutions developed through industrially- and user-driven multidisciplinary consortia covering the relevant value chain and should consider standardisation aspects when relevant.

All actions should justify the relevance of selected pilot demonstrations in different locations within the EU (and also outside if there is a clear added value for the EU economy, industry and society).

All actions should include an outline of the initial exploitation and business plans (with indicated CAPEX, OPEX, IRR and NPV) with clarified management of intellectual property rights, and commitment to the first exploitation.

Actions should also include a task to cluster with other projects financed under this topic and, where possible, with other relevant projects in the field funded by Horizon 2020, in support of the EIP on Raw Materials.

In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 8 million and EUR 13 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Applying a circular economy approach throughout the entire value chain, actions for this multi-annual topic should address only one of the following sub-topics:

a) Sustainable processing and refining of primary and/or secondary raw materials (2018, 2019)

Actions should demonstrate new or improved systems integrating relevant processing and refining technologies for better recovery of minerals and metals at increased efficiency in terms of better yield and process selectivity as well as better utilisation of resources (hence reducing wastes). This would include processing of and recovery from low grade and/or complex ores and/or from industrial or mining wastes, and/or the reduction of the content of toxic elements or compounds in the resulting materials. The importance of the targeted raw materials and their sources for the EU should be demonstrated in the proposal. The solution proposed should be flexible enough to adapt to different or variable ore/secondary raw material grades and should be supported by efficient and robust process control. Where relevant, any solution proposed for the reduction of the content of toxic elements or compounds in the resulting materials should also include the appropriate management of the hazardous substances removed. Recycling of end-of-life products is excluded from this option.

b) Recycling of raw materials from end-of-life products (2018, 2019)

Actions should develop and demonstrate novel and environmentally sound solutions for a higher recycling and recovery of secondary raw materials from end-of-life products such as waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), batteries, wood-based panels, multi-material paper packaging, end-of-life tyres, etc. These products can contain a multitude of minerals, metals, wood and wood-fibre, rubber, etc. (including critical raw materials and other technology metals).

c) Recycling of raw materials from buildings (2018, 2019)

Actions should develop and demonstrate novel solutions for a high-value recovery of raw materials from buildings. Actions should also benchmark against a series of comparative case studies of construction and demolition waste (C&DW) management in deconstruction of buildings of representative size categories in countries with different types of end-of-life building stocks, showcasing the appropriate use of the following: the EU C&DW Management Protocol, pre-demolition audit, smart demolition practices, using appropriate technical equipment, and sorting/processing and quality management of waste fractions such as metals, aggregates, concrete, bricks, plasterboard, glass, polymers and plastics and wood.

d) Advanced sorting systems for high-performance recycling of complex end-of-life products (2018, 2019)

Actions should develop and demonstrate innovative dismantling and sorting systems enabling functional recycling of critical raw materials, or other types of highly efficient recovery of metals, minerals or construction materials, from complex end-of-life products and scrap thereof. The advanced sorting systems should achieve very high throughput rates in order to allow their economically viable operation on the European market.

Expected Impact:

The project results are expected to contribute to:

  • pushing the EU to the forefront in the area of raw materials processing and/or recycling technologies and solutions through generated know-how (planned patents, publications in high impact journals and joint public-private publications etc.);
  • improving significantly the economic viability and market potential that will be gained through the pilot, leading to expanding the business across the EU after the project is finished, as well as creating added value and new jobs in raw materials producing, equipment manufacturing and/or downstream industries;
  • unlocking a significant volume of various primary/secondary raw materials currently unexploited/underexploited within the EU, hence improving their 'circularity' in the economy;
  • improving significantly the health, safety and environmental performance throughout the whole life cycle considered, including better energy and water efficiency, a reduction in waste generation and wastewater and a better recovery of resources from generated waste or a better recovery and recycling of resources from complex end-of-life products;
  • additionally, only for sub-topic b) 'Recycling of raw materials from end-of-life products', in the shorter term, increasing measurably the efficiency and effectiveness (range, yield, quality and selectivity of recovered materials) of the exploitation of complex and heterogeneous secondary raw materials deposits ('urban mines') when compared to the state of the art;
  • additionally, only for sub-topic c) 'Recycling of raw materials from buildings', lead to wider application of smart demolition techniques, C&DW processing, quality assurance practices, traceability and standardization for secondary raw materials in the construction sector, thus improving the material and value recovery rate.

Dateline for submission: 27 February 2018 17:00:00 and 4 September 2018 17:00:00 (Brussels time)

Source: The European Commission

Illustration Photo: Recycling of monitors (credits: PA Resources Council / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))

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