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New JRC report: Recovery of critical and other raw materials from mining waste and landfills - State of play on existing practices

date:  09/07/2019

The report builds on 6 examples of recovery of critical, precious and other materials from extractive waste and landfills, highlighting technological innovation and the contributions to a more comprehensive knowledge-base on raw materials. In addition, the report provides estimates of potential recovery of some materials, with respect to their current demand.

In fact, several European countries are starting (or restarting) mining operations to supply Critical Raw Materials such as cobalt, niobium, rare earths, tantalum and vanadium in waste produced from mining activities, as well as from landfills across the EU. Extracting these materials from these waste streams has the potential to enhance the sustainability of mining activities in the EU, as well as contributing to a more circular economy.

The JRC report shows that the recovery of raw materials from waste is not yet a common practice in the EU, and is not always economically viable. Data, information and consolidated knowledge on these secondary materials as well as a harmonised legislative framework within the EU appear to be crucial for the large-scale deployment of recovery practices.

There are however some notable examples which not only demonstrate the potential but also the availability of technologies and the existence of a highly innovative sector in this area.