The 5 METALLICO Processes

In METALLICO, 5 innovative processes will be developed. They will be used to recover and exploit the (critical) metals relevant for METALLICO from primary and secondary resources. The processes will be evaluated in terms of their sustainability.


The 5 processes and their end use.

The goal of the COOL+ Process is the selective recovery of lithium as well the production of geopolymers from the aluminosilicate solid residue and thus a holistic valorisation (zero-waste concept) of lithium containing ores. 

In a first step the lithium ores are thermally treated at 950-1200 °C. Afterwards, the material is suspended in water and leached with supercritical CO2. The liquid phase, containing lithium carbonate (Li2CO3), is separated by filtration and concentrated by electrodialysis. Through evaporation lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) is precipitated as highly pure product.
Since the lithium concentration in the raw material is low (< 5 wt.%) the main part of the ore remains as solid after leaching. In the framework of a zero-waste concept this residue is used for production of geopolymers.

The TAILCO process aims to develop and implement a new technology in order to valorise secondary cobalt resources.

The cobalt is contained in tailings from copper production. In METALLICO the input material for the process is the raffinate generated from the existing solvent-extraction circuit after copper recovery, which contains interesting concentrations of cobalt and zinc in an aqueous sulphuric acid media.

Firstly, through a pressure-driven membrane-based step, cobalt will be concentrated while the sulfuric acid will be recovered to be recycled into the process. In a second step, impurities such as iron will be removed. Lastly, a metallic cobalt compound will be recovered. The remaining zinc will be precipitated and recovered, considering its economic value and the need for a zero-waste approach.

The aim of the CONI process is to develop a technology for the recovery of copper, cobalt and nickel from waste alloys (containing iron-arsenic) that are generated in lead hydrometallurgical processes. This technology will allow to recover metals in forms which could be used for the production of cathodes for batteries.

The CONI process comprises several technical steps. The mechanical grinding of the waste alloy is followed by oxidative leaching in a sulfuric environment to dissolve copper, cobalt, nickel, iron and arsenic. After the removal of iron and arsenic from the solution copper is being recovered, followed by the precipitation of cobalt-nickel concentrate.

The PURGES process aims to recover cobalt from purges generated in polymetallurgical refining processes.

The production of copper is accompanied by secondary cobalt resources in the form of tailings and process purges, presenting an opportunity for the recovery of cobalt with an average concentration of 300 ppm. In the process, innovative membrane-based techniques will be evaluated aiming at the highly selective recovery of cobalt and minimizing the consumption of green solvents in a more sustainable approach. The concentrated cobalt and the sulfuric acid(H2SO4) stream will be forwarded to an evaporation and crystallization step to recover Cobalt(II)-sulfat (CoSO4) as a valuable product.

The goal of the COMAN process is to recover cobalt, nickel and manganese from tailings generated in ore concentration plants.

In a first step, cobalt and manganese will be concentrated. They will then undergo a sustainable bioleaching process. Lastly, the leach liquor will be purified through selective precipitation of cobalt, manganese, nickel and copper. The process also aims at the recovery and valorisation of remaining zinc to target zero-waste. Besides, the use of a more sustainable leaching process is one step ahead towards zero waste processing.

The COMAN process aims to be an environmentally and economically friendly process for increasing the recovery of critical metals from low grade tailings. This improves the EU supply of raw materials but is also expected to lead to a better environmental management of tailings.


The 5 processes will be demonstrated in 4 case studies.

Learn more