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Rio Tinto promotes raw material recycling from mining wastewater

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The Finnish companies Weeefiner and Sensmet are testing methods to extract critical minerals such as rare earths from the water of disused mines.

The two Finnish companies Weeefiner and Sensmet are working on a solution to recover raw materials such as nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper as well as rare earth metals from mining waters. They would be supported for three years with up to two million dollars by the mining group Rio Tinto. The funding takes place within the framework of the Sustainable Water Treatment Challenge program. The technology for metal recovery and water treatment is provided by Weeefiner, the measurement technology comes from Sensmet.

However, investments in the recovery of raw materials from legacies of the mining industry such as mining wastewater or coal ash are not a novelty: In April of this year, the USA announced that it would finance projects for the recycling of raw materials with large sums. In other countries such as Germany, Chile or Brazil, methods are also being worked on to recycle critical raw materials from the sludge or wastewater from disused mines. Such technologies could still become more important in the future, as the demand for critical raw materials is growing and the development of new raw material mining areas usually takes many years.

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