Work packages

Work plan and structure

The BIOMOre project consists of a Lead Coordinator, 8 Work Package (WP) Leaders and 21 participants to support work progress. The Lead Coordinator is KGHM Polska Miedz S.A., Poland. All WP are interconnected and dependent on each other.

WP1 Biotechnology and Process Modelling

Lead Participant: Bangor University, United Kingdom

Participants: KGHM, Bangor, BGR, brgm, CNRS, GEOS, Hatch, Mintek, TUT

The aim of WP1 is to conduct research activities that will define and characterize the in-situ bioleaching method eventually used at the test site.

The tasks are designed on the basis of a four-stage bio-processing scenario, involving:

  • a pre-leach stage (injecting pure water through the fractured deposit);

  • an acid-leach stage using biogenic sulfuric acid (to cause the dissolution of carbonates and other acid-soluble minerals, and to allow further opening of (micro) fissures within the ore body);

  • a ferric iron-leach stage using a biogenic, low-pH iron liquor (to oxidize copper sulfides and other sulfide minerals);

  • a decommissioning stage which will seek to eliminate bacteria introduced into the fractured ore body during the bioleaching phases and to accelerate sealing of the fissures 

The key research areas include laboratory-scale investigations of the bioleaching process at representative temperatures and pressures using well-characterized mineral phases from the Rudna mine, the impact of physico-chemical parameters on the bioleaching microflora, and methods for decommissioning the site. Biogeochemical models will be developed to describe the processes investigated, to predict the leaching efficiency under different conditions, and to examine changes in the chemistry of the leach solution as it depressurizes. The construction of a ferric iron-generating bioreactor for deployment at the test site is another major outcome of this work package.

WP2 Development of a modelling toolbox

Lead Participant: G.E.O.S. Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH, Germany

Participants: AGH, CNRS, DMT, G.E.O.S, KGHM Miedź, TUBAF, UIT

The overall goal of WP2 is to develop a flexible toolbox for optimizing the leaching method for variable types of complex mineralization, so that it can be adapted to different ore deposits at different localities and with different pemeabilities. State-of-the-art geological, geotechnical and bio-geochemical models will be integrated which will be strictly modular, so that the modules can be adjusted to the conditions of a specific deposit. The process model developed in WP 1, based on column tests, and the results of the model verification on a medium scale in WP 3 will be integrated into this toolbox. The main challenge is to integrate the standard methods used to model leaching with the calculated degree of channeling induced in the low permeability rocks.

The toolbox will be used to perform the scaling up of the methods developed in the laboratory at the test site. It will also be applicable for further scaling up of pilot and industrial plants in the future.

WP3 On-site bioleaching

Lead Participant: KGHM Polska Miedź S.A., Poland

Participants: KGHM, AGH, DMT, G.E.O.S., Hatch, HZDR, KGHM Miedź, VTT

WP3 aims at testing the combined hydrofracturing and in-situ bioleaching technologies at a specifically designed underground test facility in the Rudna copper mine. The operation will include the complete lithological profile of the deposit, including copper shale, carbonate and sandstone. Data will be collected in-situ to support the evaluation of the toolbox developed in WP2.

The first objective is to design and build the underground facility. The test facility will comprise two parallel 100 m3 ore blocks (30 m x 5 m x 2 m) in which boreholes will be drilled horizontally using standard equipment. All of the equipment for testing different parameters of the bioleaching process will then be installed underground. The main objectives of the tests are to quantify the “in-situ” dissolution of sulphide minerals in the metal deposit and evaluate the effectiveness of the overall process. The data from the test reactor will allow the leaching model to be calibrated, which will optimize the scale-up to the pilot plant level.

WP4 Hydrometallurgical aspects

Lead Participant: Hatch, United Kingdom

Participants: KGHM, ClC, G.E.O.S., Hatch, IMN

This work package focuses on metal recovery and downstream hydrometallurgical processing of the leach solutions obtained from the in-situ bioleaching.

The objectives are to:

  • Select the most economically efficient process to recover marketable metal products that would be applicable on a commercial scale

  • Research and develop these processes on small scale

  • Develop effluent treatment technologies applicable to the leach solutions

The development work will focus on achieving outcomes that may eventually be applicable to a successful industrial scale operation. Solvent extraction followed by electrowinning (SX/EW) is the conventional process used for recovering copper from leach solutions. However, SX/EW is not suited for solutions with low copper concentrations, as they are expected to be found in the BIOMOre leachate, so that large and costly solvent extraction circuits would be needed. Therefore, the research efforts in BIOMOre will focus on alternative processes and pre-concentration methods:

  • Sequential sulphide precipitation as used commercially at Talvivaara in Finland for the recovery of copper, zinc and nickel sulphide products

  • Pre-concentration of copper in the solution by membrane technologies 

  • Pre-concentration of copper by ion exchange

The leaching process is expected to dissolve large amounts of iron and magnesium, which will have a negative effect on the hydrometallurgical processes. Therefore, the removal of excess iron and magnesium from the solution will also be a focus of the research.

WP5 Environmental impact and sustainability assessment, in situ safe-guarding, green mining aspects

Lead Participant: Kemakta Konsult AB, Sweden

Participants: DMT, GEOS, GTK, HZDR, Kemakta, KGHM Miedź, VTT

The objective of this work package is to evaluate the acceptability of the BIOMOre technology with respect to environmental impacts and sustainable development of the mining industry.

The evaluation is divided into the following tasks:

  • Selection of sustainability performance indicators that are relevant to the current (baseline) mining technology and the BIOMOre technology, and identification of sustainability performance indicator values for the baseline technology

  • Assessment of the environmental impacts of the underground research facility

  • Review of relevant European legislation and BREF documents

  • Extrapolation of the environmental impact assessment to a future full-scale production plant.

  • Evaluation of the total impact of the BIOMOre technology based on values identified for the selected sustainability performance indicators.

WP6 Strategy development, needs assessment and capacity building

Lead Participant: DMT GmbH & Co. KG, Germany

Participants: MIRO, CNRS, DMT, GTK, G.U.B

The BIOMOre consortium is aware that dissemination, communication and exploitation are essential for ensuring that the BIOMOre technology becomes an integral part of European mining. These activities improve quality, increase the impact of the project and allow the results to be used to influence or change current practice in the raw material sector. Accordingly, the tasks included in WP6 start at the beginning of the project and may continue even after the BIOMOre project has been completed with the exploitation of the scientific results. The general objectives of this WP are therefore to:

  • Develop a detailed dissemination, communication and exploitation strategy for channeling the project’s results to an international audience

  • Develop, establish and maintain mechanisms and tools for effective dissemination

  • Inform and involve stakeholders, target and user groups of the project development and promote interactions

  • Ensure that information is shared with the appropriate audiences and media on a timely basis

  • Manage exploitation of the knowledge produced by the BioMOre project

A detailed dissemination, communication and exploitation strategy that will be implemented through digital and traditional methods will be developed accordingly. Awareness of the project will be maximized amongst stakeholders and target end user groups, enhancing BIOMOre’s reputation as an innovative research project with significant potential for the European economy and the international mining industry. Furthermore, all of the information distributed and every communication campaign will highlight that the BIOMOre project is linked to the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) for the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials via the Horizon 2020 research initiative.

WP7 Prefeasibility study, economic assessment, pilot preparation

Lead Participant: Umwelt- und Ingenieurtechnik GmbH Dresden (UIT), Germany

Participants: ClC, CNRS, G.U.B.

WP7 integrates the results from WP1 through WP5 to:

  • Assess the potential industrial applicability of the new biomining concepts developed, tested and optimized within the BIOMOre project

  • Perform an advanced economic evaluation (CAPEX/OPEX versus metal recovery and NPV analysis for potential industrial scenarios)

  • Develop design criteria for a potential pilot-scale demonstration

The prefeasibility study will be performed using conventional copper mining standards as a reference. A combined technological-economic model will be developed for innovative copper biomining in order to optimize the metal recovery in a generalized context. This will be achieved by relating key technological parameters to cost figures for a full-scale mine development cycle, considering current and anticipated future market conditions. It will also be used to identify/quantify applicability criteria and risk factors. Finally, potential zones will be identified where the new mining technology could be implemented in a subsequent pilot demonstration (stage II).

WP8 Management

Lead Participant: Mineral Industry Research Organization (MIRO), United Kingdom

Participants: KGHM, MIRO, Bangor

Work package 8 will focus on project coordination and management activities as well as maintaining good relations with the EU. This work package will be responsible for reporting on time and for the management of IPR issues. The overall objective of this WP is to guarantee a smooth execution of the project for the entire consortium.