Sustainability and Acceptance of the Recovery of Economically Strategic Raw Materials from Mining Residues

Area after peat mining during renaturation in Northern Germany in Dead Moor

One of the greatest challenges of the coming years will be to ensure a sustainable, environmentally-friendly supply of metallic resources to the German economy. The utilisation of mining residues left over from Germany’s long history of mining offers great resource extraction potential, while at the same time minimising or even completely avoiding damage to the environment. However, there are often difficulties in processing such materials.

The r4-joint project, supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), sees adelphi working with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg, Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, G.E.O.S. Freiberg, BRAIN AG and Nickelhütte Aue GmbH on the development of an implementation-ready method for the extraction of economically strategic trace elements via bioleaching and element-specific enrichment.

In pursuit of this goal, adelphi is analysing and evaluating sustainability issues and local and national acceptance of the extraction of selected raw materials via bioleaching. In this process, adelphi is designing and utilising an indicator-based sustainability assessment to evaluate the potential social and environmental impacts and risks. adelphi is further comparing the environmental and social compatibility of primary and secondary extraction on the basis of this sustainability assessment and other comparable projects worldwide. In order to examine the acceptance of bioleaching, adelphi is carrying out local stakeholder dialogues and two workshops on the national level with representatives from communities, residents and civil society. These are intended to identify concerns and reservations and to transparently communicate possible environmental and social impacts.