A consortium of expert European organisations has launched the world’s first database of resources in e-waste, scrap, vehicles and mining waste, providing valuable market data for the mining industry.
The Urban Mine Platform (urbanmineplatform.eu) presents the flows of precious and base metals and critical raw materials in products across the EU, and follows them throughout all the stages of their life cycle.
It was created by 17 European partners in project ProSUM (Prospecting Secondary Raw Materials in the Urban Mine and Mining Wastes), with the primary focus of providing a knowledge base on secondary critical raw materials (CRMs) and assisting the promotion of a circular economy across the EU.
The database also provides beneficial information to the mining industry, such as the quantities and types of materials that are in demand across the market. It does this by drawing on data collected from previous projects.
“Until very recently when we started with the ProSUM project the data was sitting in different places,” says Pascal Leroy, Secretary General of the WEEE Forum and ProSUM project coordinator, “and they were different types of data across institutions and they were not comparable.”
The user-friendly site contains extensive data on electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), vehicles, and batteries. Within these categories graphs show composition, including components, materials and elements. Data can be viewed by country, stock levels, and specific products.
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Additionally, the data, which starts from 2000, shows predictions for each category up to 2020, allowing the mining industry to both study market trends and stay ahead of them.
All of this data will allow for greater planning, risk mitigation and improved profitability in the mining of primary raw materials.
“What this website and this tool allows you to do is show the effect of more products in the market, rapid technology changes from one display technology to the other and the effect of circuit board miniaturisation all combined,” said Jaco Huisman, ProSUM Scientific Coordinator, while discussing the market trends for gold.
The project is also gathering information about resources available in mining waste, where deposits are usually very large but the metal grade is low. New data, such as location, type of waste and origin, is available in a special extension of the database at Minerals4EU (minerals4eu.brgm-rec.fr).
“In the end there is long demand for minerals like copper or gold and to a large extent what you get out of the secondary parts will also go into the same technology and very often the same processes in the primary side,” says Huisman. “There is something that is very relevant for the primary side and specifically those that are working on extraction and refining processes.”