Moving from single-metal lithium mining to (near-)zero-waste, multi-metal/mineral mining… that is the challenge we set ourselves in the EXCEED proposal that was submitted in March 2022 in the call “HORIZON-CL4-2022-RESILIENCE-01-07”. Following a favourable outcome of the reviewing process, it is with great pleasure that we can announce that EXCEED, a 4 year Innovation Action coordinated by VTT (Finland) with SIM² Leuven as one of the driving forces, has secured funding.

EXCEED stands for “Cost-effective, sustainable and responsible extraction routes for recovering distinct critical metals and industrial minerals as by-products from key European hard-rock lithium projects”. The project is set to start early 2023, pending the successful completion of the on-going GA Process. Here below we reproduce the public abstract and enlist the project partners.

Public Abstract EXCEED

Europe is 100% reliant on imports of Li for the Li-ion batteries that are central to decarbonising the energy and mobility sectors. Some fraction of our needs can come from recycling the batteries already in use, but realistically, primary supply will still have to cover 90% of the Li requirement. Paradoxically, Europe hosts 27 Li hard-rock (pegmatite & Rare-Metal Granite) deposits, representing vast lithium resources (8.8–21.7 Mt Li2O). However, the identified potential remains largely untouched, which is partly due to a reluctant attitude towards primary (Li) mining in Europe. Europeans are very enthusiastic about EVs, but rather less so about the necessary mining & refining of Li-bearing ores to realise them.

By upscaling and integrating results from earlier projects, EXCEED’s 15 partners develop a new mining paradigm, i.e. zero-waste, multi-metal/mineral mining. This will be combined with sustainable mineral processing to provide us with additional critical raw materials (CRMs: rare earths, Nb, Ta, W, Be) and industrial minerals (quartz, feldspar and micas), coming from 4 lithium mines (as case studies) in Finland (Keliber), Portugal (Savannah), France (Imerys) and the UK (Imerys). The project adopts a mineral-centric, integrated methodology based on an innovative predictive and forensic geometallurgy, supported by enhanced in-line characterisation tools and the development of digital twins.

EXCEED develops, upscales and demonstrates costeffective, sustainable and responsible extraction routes for recovering CRMs and industrial minerals (the latter for use as low-carbon ceramics and cements), as by-products from the 4 Li-bearing hard-rock ores. EXCEED’s long-term impact includes the replication of the EXCEED solutions to the other 23 European pegmatite and Rare-Metal Granite deposits, thus boosting domestic CRM production (up to 21.7 Mt Li2O & 1.5 Mt of other CRMs), in a way that gains public support by respecting the environment and creating local jobs. 

EXCEED Consortium

VTT, Imerys, CASPEO, Sustainable Innovation Institute (SII), Keliber, Betolar, Savannah, DSC, Wienerberger Belgium, U Lorraine, KU Leuven, Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), University of Oulu, Technical University of Crete, MEAB

WP Leaders

Quentin Dehaine (GTK), Lev Filippov (U Lorraine), Grégoire Jean (Imerys), Sofia Riano (KU Leuven), Sanna Uusitalo (VTT), Kostas Komnitsas (TUC), Anna Kritikaki (TUC), Rabab Nasser (KU Leuven), Janne Paaso (VTT)