Origin of battery metals to be more visible

The Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) is involved in a new project to investigate how the origin of battery metals can be traced. Identifying the origin of raw materials supports the development of sustainable production.

Around the world, there is a growing need for tracking down the origin of metals used as industrial raw materials. The general aim is to pay more and more attention to the sustainable production of metals and to production conditions. The Finnish project will investigate how utilisable information about the origin of raw materials can be obtained by studying the properties of chemical elements included in metals. Each raw material has their own characteristics, a “fingerprint”, on the basis of which it may even be possible to track down the origin of materials used in a finished product.

Metals are used in the manufacture of batteries for electric cars and mobile phones, among others. The electrification of the traffic system and new forms of energy production increase demand for batteries. The production of battery metals should be sustainable, socially responsible and traceable. Battery minerals are often imported from developing countries, where working conditions and environmental impact are often not on a sustainable basis. The development of new production processes and traceability promote the sustainable production of battery metals in Finland and Europe. If the fingerprint of battery metals could be identified, production would most likely be more transparent and demand for responsibly produced raw materials would increase.

The joint BATTRACE project develops technologies for the traceability and sustainable production of battery minerals, metals and materials. The traceability of the entire production chain is a requirement for the certification of battery materials. Sustainable processing technologies are developed to improve the efficiency of production, to recover more battery metals than before and to improve the quality and value of battery metal products.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and GTK will carry out the project’s research activities between 2020 and 2023. Parties to the BATTRACE project are the Finnish Minerals Group, Keliber, Outotec, Valmet Automation, Latitude 66 Cobalt, Fennoscandian Resources and Mawson.