EXCEED – Cost-Effective, Sustainable and Responsible Extraction Routes for Recovering Distinct Critical Metals and Industrial Minerals as By-Products From Key European Hard-Rock Lithium Projects


Europe is 100% reliant on imports of lithium (Li) for the Li-ion batteries that are central to decarbonising the energy and mobility sectors. Some fraction of our needs can come from recycling the batteries already in use, but realistically, primary supply will still have to cover 90% of the Li requirement. Paradoxically, Europe hosts 27 Li hard-rock (pegmatite & Rare-Metal Granite) deposits, representing vast lithium resources (8.8–21.7 Mt Li2O, as-of-date). However, the identified potential remains largely untouched, which is partly due to a reluctant attitude towards mining in Europe. Europeans are very enthusiastic about EVs, but rather less so about the necessary mining & refining of Li-bearing ores to produce them.

By upscaling and integrating results from earlier projects, EXCEED’s 15 partners will develop a new mining paradigm, i.e. zero-waste, multi-metal/mineral mining. This will be combined with sustainable mineral processing to provide us with additional critical raw materials (CRMs: rare earths, Nb, Ta, W, Be) and industrial minerals (quartz, feldspar and micas), coming from four lithium mine projects (as case studies) in Finland (Keliber), Portugal (Savannah), France (Imerys) and the UK (Imerys).

The project adopts a mineral-centric, integrated methodology based on an innovative predictive and forensic geometallurgy led by GTK, supported by enhanced in-line characterisation tools and the development of digital twins. EXCEED develops, upscales and demonstrates cost-effective, sustainable and responsible extraction routes for recovering CRMs and industrial minerals (the latter for use as low-carbon ceramics and cements), as by-products from the four Li-bearing hard-rock ores. EXCEED’s long-term impact includes the replication of the EXCEED solutions to the other 23 European pegmatite and Rare-Metal Granite deposits, thus boosting domestic CRM production (up to 21.7 Mt Li2O & 1.5 Mt of other CRMs), in a way that gains public support by respecting the environment and creating local jobs.

The EXCEED project receives 11.2 million euros funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation program (Grant agreement number: 101091543). The coordinator of the four-year project is VTT TECHNICAL RESEARCH CENTRE OF FINLAND LTD. Besides VTT and GTK, Finnish partners include KELIBER TECHNOLOGY OY, BETOLAR OYJ and UNIVERSITY OF OULU.

Contact person: Irmeli Huovinen

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