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Camborne School of Mines celebrates successful Innovate UK bids

5 October 2023

2 minutes to read

Camborne School of Mines celebrates successful Innovate UK bids

Camborne School of Mines has been successful with support from Exeter Innovation (EI) with two bids for grants totalling over £300,000 from Innovate UK as part of its CLIMATES programme focussed on circular critical material supply chains.

In June, The ‘Critical Materials for Magnets’ competition focused on rare earth elements and was split into two strands. Lead PI Professor Karen Hudson-Edward’s project ReREE, ‘Establishing feasibility of a novel process to recover rare earth elements from mining tailings for re-entry into a UK supply chain’, was successful in ‘Strand 1 feasibility studies.’

Lead PI Professor Frances Wall’s Mine MT ‘Developing a tool for companies to use to evaluate the environmental, criticality and sustainability footprint of rare earth magnet supply chain’ project was successful in ‘Strand 2, later stage research and development (R&D)’.

EI’s Chris Watson, Impact and Partnership Development Officer, Environment & Clean Growth and Claire Eatock, Impact and Partnership Development Manager, Climate Smart Mining, supported the bids as business and pre-award liaisons and ensured they were budgeted and submitted on time. Both projects will start in October 2023.

ReREE will last a year working with Industrial lead Altilium Metals Ltd. based in Tavistock. It includes co-investigator Professor Wall, researchers Eva Marquis and Richard Chalkley and technician Gavyn Rollinson. It will see REE-bearing mine tailings supplied by Altilium Metals to the Camborne School of Mines for geochemical and mineralogical characterisation and leaching tests. Based on this analysis, low-cost green technologies for REE extraction will be developed by CSM and Altilium. The process will then be applied to other REE-bearing tailings to ensure a green supply of REE to the UK for magnet production.

The Mine MT project will last for 18 months and is working with lead partner Minviro Ltd, a UK SME (and spin-out from the SoS RARE rare earth project at Camborne School of Mines), along with collaborators Mkango Resources Ltd and Grundfos of Denmark.

MineMT will feature co-investigators Professor Markus Zils, Professor Peter Hopkinson (Business School), Professor Xiaoyu Yan (Renewable Energy) and Dr Sam Broom-Fendley (CSM) and a Knowledge Exchange Fellow and will create a life cycle sustainability assessment mine-to-motor impact calculator. It aims to drive a sustainable, diversified supply of rare earth permanent magnet synchronous motors used in the drivetrains for electric vehicles, wind turbines and water pumps. Currently, the UK imports almost 100% of these from China, and the project aims to help secure a more diverse supply.

Karen states: “We are delighted to be partnering with Altilium to work on this exciting REE project. Mine tailings are a virtually untapped resource that has great potential for extraction of these important elements. With this project, we have the opportunity to test their potential for REE supply for UK magnet manufacture.”

Frances said: “The project with Minviro is the latest in a long-term collaboration. It is aligned directly with the ‘Enhance’ part of the UK critical minerals strategy, in which the UK seeks to provide leadership in responsible sourcing and stewardship of critical minerals.”

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