1. Develop innovative technological solutions to optimize raw materials & waste treatment: Accessing strategic materials is critical. So it is of paramount importance to extend the knowledge base in processing and extractive metallurgy to optimize the transformation of ore or waste stream into valuable materials
2. Enhance EU skills in mineral processing and extractive metallurgy of ores and industrial residues: Industrial companies cannot afford employing all the specialists required to support their activities. But they need these specialists to exist in Europe and they need to know where to find them. EuROPEM will provide access to these specialists.
3. In the longer term, boost the innovation capacity of the EU raw materials related sectors.
By training a new generation of skilled engineers and metallurgists, the network will contribute to expand the future European innovation potential.
Since the mid-2000s, numerous European Countries, and the European Union itself, have realized how dependent they have been on foreign imports to access non energetic raw materials. This dependence has been interpreted as a threat to Europe’s industrial network and global competitiveness. In parallel, it has also been recognized that Europe holds valuable mineral resources in both primary and secondary markets. Sources of such minerals being either underground or in our trash boxes create new market opportunities that will support much needed economic growth in Europe.
However, to size this opportunity, the development of new extractive, mineral processing and metallurgical techniques are required. Before being industrially developed, these techniques need not only to be efficient but also to take into account the economics and the environmental and societal aspects in Europe and abroad. Techniques fulfilling these requirements will first generate new IP in Europe and also allow new types of natural deposits and industrial residues to be mined, creating subsequently more wealth in Europe.
Innovation bases on strong R&D knowledge and capabilities. It is essential to enable Europe to regain its former leading position in these domains by mobilizing and networking substantial part of the European raw materials community. In addition, having good ideas is not enough to generate innovation. Helping the best ideas to reach the market by enabling them to progress on the TRL scale is critical to leverage the effect of public support in R&D and create more jobs.
In this context, numerous networks have emerged in Europe, dealing, at least partly, with the issue of mineralurgy and extractive metallurgy (e.g. the Era-net on non-energetic raw materials ERAMIN or the REE focused network ERECON). Nevertheless, there is still a lack in Europe of a structure bridging closely research and innovation of the primary and secondary raw materials value chain and business models that allow cross fertilization of ideas and successful demonstration up to the pilot scale.
The EuROPEM Network fills this gap by gathering academic and industrial partners. It aims at coordinating and financially supporting R&D works on transversal issues in the fields of mineralurgy and extractive metallurgy. The annual funding of the network will originate from fees of the members and EU as well as national support (depending on the opportunities).
- Supporting pre-competitive R&D works
Pre-competitive R&D works on issues of interest for the industrial partners gathered in the End-Users Group will be financially supported by the Network through grants to buy small equipement or finance non-permanent co-workers together with associated expenditures, within academic institutions. When promising, scale-up will be possible with industrial funding.
- Facilitating the emergence of promising collaborative projects
By providing a broad forum for academic and industrial partners to exchange on mineralurgy and extractive metallurgy, this network will be a place to find the right partners to build consortia able to provide a holistic approach to raw material questions.
- Enabling innovation
One trump card of this network is its capacity to support the further development of promising processes up to the pilot scale through facilitated access to the existing piloting platforms, which will be gathered into a platform network (see the MetNet RM-Commitment. EuROPEM will be closely linked to the European Institute of Hydrometallurgy (to be built from 2014 to 2017, see the EIH RM-Commitment).
The successful creation of this mineralurgical and metallurgical research network would result in:
- Reinforcing the position of European industries on their traditional markets because even raw material production has turned from labour-intensive to knowledge intensive. But also allowing them to access new markets (like the recycling of high tech-products)
- Facilitate technology transfer from academia to industry by reinforcing synergism between these major stakeholders of innovation
- Cross fertilisation between extractive metallurgy and other important fields of activity in Europe. For exemple metallurgy may befenit to chemistry (for example for natural substances extraction) or medicine (e.g. fast diagnostics). But cross fertilisation also works the other way round, for example new modelling tool facilitating operation in metallurgical plants and new business models issuing from other sectors may be implemented in processing plants.
- More young people coming back to science and technology to support the position of Europe as the world leading region in knowledge economy
- Better exchange of knowledge and good practices via bridges being built with scientific communities in Northern and Southern America, Australia, but also developing countries
Innovation is not only enabling new ideas to blossom in academic laboratories. Innovation is also helping these ideas to reach the market. By combining industrial interests and academic creativity this proposed network will boost Europe’s innovation potential. The Network will provide industry with a single access point to the European research potential in RM sciences and will provide academics with a facilitated access to the end-users able to boost their innovation potential.
CEA will coordinate the network and act as the secretariat of the network.
It includes among others the creation of the different bodies, the coordination of the actions of the network, the identification of financing opportunity, the dissemination, the communication and the education & training actions.
CEA will also be involved in the R&D projects issuing from the network