The Al-Source project is directly aligned with “a resource opportunity- waste management policy in Ireland (July 2012)” where maximum value is sought from bauxite residue by researching the re-use of the residue as a phosphorus filter for waste water and also investigating the recovery of precious metal from the residues. The processing techniques to be investigated will also take into account the condition and toxicity of by-products with an aim to reduce the amount of residue going to landfill.
One of Europe 2020’s flagship initiatives is Resource Efficiency Europe Framework which recognises the strategic importance of avoiding risks to supply of resources such as rare earths and precious metals. Rare earth and specific precious metals materials have been classified as Critical Raw Materials (Critical Raw materials for the EU, EC working group report, July 2010). Recovery of precious metals from residues helps to secure supply of essential resources (these metals are used extensively in modern day electronic products) while also developing a circular economy for such materials.
These challenges have been recognised at EU level by the EIP and the call for Raw Materials Commitments (RMC). University of Limerick (UL) is leading a recognised European RMC called BRAVO (Bauxite Residue and Aluminium Valorisation Operations) of 24 partners including Aughinish Alumina, Rio Tinto, Hydro Aluminium, Alteo Gardanne, BRGM, International Aluminium Association, and Euromines among others (https://ec.europa.eu/eip/raw-materials/en/commitment-detail/375 ). This is a gathering of key players to tap the full potential of primary and secondary materials by creating a pan-European raw materials knowledge base, developing innovative, sustainable technological solutions to access new raw materials from residues and establishing a friendly legal framework regarding mining residue and economically attractive environment across the EU, which takes into account environmental and social aspects. In addition, UL is also a core partner in a bid for a European Raw Material Key Innovation Community (KIC) under the EIP. This gives UL the ideal platform to develop, promote, disseminate and influence policy makers with research findings at national and international level.