The Futures of Critical Raw Materials in Europe explored at the 2024 Futures Conference in Turku

On the past 13th and 14th of June, La Palma Research Centre was present at the 24th Futures Conference organised by the Finland Futures Research Centre & the Finland Futures Academy, from the University of Turku, in cooperation with the Natural Resources Institute Finland. Participation in this event was linked to the CIRAN project. The theme of the 2024 Futures Conference edition was the “Futures of Natural Resources”, consisting of a pre-Conference virtual programme (4th of June) and two full days of keynote lectures, parallel sessions, and participatory workshops, altogether generating a space for knowledge-exchange, experience-sharing, and fostering transdisciplinarity around the foresights and future alternatives for the preservation, protection, regulation, use, and application of natural resources.  

It was in this context, that the EU-funded CIRAN project was represented by LPRC’s researcher Helena Robert i Campos, who hosted a participatory workshop on Task 3.3 ‘Nexus of societal vulnerabilities’ within WP3 (Nexus between Policy Decisions and Drivers of Change). The workshop encouraged participants to delve into future possible scenarios for Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) in Europe. CRMs are essential components in various high-tech industries, including renewable energy, electronics, and automotive manufacturing. As Europe strives to transition to a green development model, ensuring a stable and sustainable supply of these materials has become a top priority.  

The event brought together leading experts, policymakers, and industry stakeholders to discuss CRM autonomy and the foresights for their extraction in European environmentally protected areas, highlighting the relevance of circularity across value chains and consumption patterns, as well as the transformative trends in the extractive and mining sectors, such as the advances in robotisation and remote-sensing techniques.

Participants were introduced to the four Future Scenarios for 2035 generated by LPRC from the outcomes of previous foresight exercises such as the Delphi Survey. Afterwards, participants had the chance to actively discuss and outline the key drivers and changes that need to happen to support sustainable CRM management. These included, among others: investment in recycling infrastructure to recover CRMs from end-of-life products, funding and the need to strengthen partnerships with non-EU countries to secure a diversified supply chain and fair CRMs cooperation.

To conclude, the LPRC team acknowledges the great engagement of workshop participants and thanks them for their valuable contribution to the development of the CIRAN project. It equally thanks the organising institutions for successfully coordinating another edition of the Futures Conference. Looking forward to participating in Turku next year! 

For more information on the CIRAN Project and upcoming events, please visit the CIRAN Project Website.

TIMREX Steering Commitee Meeting, 27-28 June 2024, Wroclaw, Poland

La Palma Research Centre joined the TIMREX consortium in Wroclaw, Poland, on the 27-28 June 2024, as part of the project’s yearly Steering Committee meeting. This event was hosted by the partner Wroclaw University of Science and Technology.

The meeting began with welcome words and practicalities, followed by the overview of the agenda and the objectives of the meeting. After that, all partners engaged in discussions about administrative topics and workplan with regards to the different components of the TIMREX programme. The latest editions of the Summer School and Applied Field Exploration course were presented, including the feedback provided by the participating students, followed by discussions on how to improve these actions for next students. The Exploration entrepreneurship course, a strong entrepreneurial component of TIMREX programme, was also presented.

After that, the partners overviewed the thesis topics of the students and their internship activities as TIMREX students. The purpose of this section was to monitor the academic progress of the students, and to plan the necessary actions to fulfill the objectives of the study programme. LPRC presented the work done on Communication and Dissemination matters and how the efforts are helping the project.

Finally, the partners engaged in discussing the targets to be met in the near future and to assess the possibilities to extend the partnership for additional years.

CRM-geothermal 3rd General Assembly, 3-5 July 2024, Munich, Germany

La Palma Research Centre joined the CRM-geothermal partners in the most recent project General Assembly, hosted by GFZ Postdam in Munich, Germany, between the 3 and 5 July. Project partners presented the progress achieved over the past year, across all Work Packages.

The first day was dedicated to presentation of Work Package (WP) 1: Screening and mapping of CRM content in geothermal settings, WP2: Geological controls of CRM mobility, source and long-term sustainability in different geothermal settings and WP6: Dissemination, communication and exploitation. LPRC contributed to the presentations under WP6 on Communication and Dissemination. As the leader of the clustering task, aimed at identifying common topics and challenges with other European initiatives related to the project, LPRC introduced the task concept, highlighted past activities, and outlined future networking opportunities through events and conferences focused on raw materials and geothermal energy. Additionally, with the engagement of other partners, potential joint activities were identified and evaluated.

On the second day of meetings, LPRC led presentations on the Market Deployment task. This task focuses on bridging the technology used in CRM-geothermal with the market. It is a complex task that involves technological issues, political settings, environmental concerns, and social aspects of combined CRM and geothermal energy extraction. As the task is just beginning, the presentation involved discussing strategies and target audiences to build solid business plans and a market deployment strategy with all partners. This task is part of WP4: Deployment of the combined extraction of CRM and energy from geothermal fluids. Other WPs included 3: Development and optimisation of extraction technologies for CRM from geothermal brines and 5: Testing, validation, integration (of design requirements, systems and components).

The last was dedicated to a field trip to a geothermal plant in Laufzorn.


START Consortium Meeting, 6 & 7 June 2024, Oslo, Norway

The 2024 annual START meeting was held during the 6th and 7th June 2024 in Oslo, Norway, with partner SINTEF hosting the meeting. The meeting was dedicated to the status and future steps of the work being developed under the seven work packages, which include Work Package 7 – Innovation and Exploitation strategy, led by La Palma Research Centre. The main goal of START is to build an innovation ecosystem in the European Union (EU) related to the development of sustainable and economically viable tellurium-free thermoelectric (TE) energy harvesting systems based on innovative mine waster recycling, to be applied in heavy industry for waste heat recovery and also as primary power source for energy harvesting for wearables, buildings, off-grid sensors and IoT devices.

The first day was dedicated to technical presentations, which were complemented with a workshop hosted by LPRC for data collection on commercial and feasibility aspects of the START technological developments. Collected parameters will feed into development of Task 7.2 – Industrial viability and economics.

The second day had technical presentations, the 5th START webinar, and another workshop hosted by LPRC, this time dedicated to sustainability of the START project after the funding period. First, LPRC presented the status and future steps in WP7, then the workshop was hosted connected to Task 7.4 – Sustainability and Deployment. During this workshop exercise, participants (project partners and advisory board representative) were asked to provide their ideas for the “START Service Company” in a Lean Canvas (a tool used for business planning purposes).

This was a great meeting and the perfect opportunity for LPRC to prepare its future work in Work Package 7.

Stay tuned for upcoming news on the project. Meanwhile, follow the project news on the website, Twitter and LinkedIn channels!

PERSEPHONE Meeting, 10 & 11 April 2024, Brussels, Belgium

The La Palma Research Centre team met for the first time the PERSEPHONE Project Consortium on the 10 and 11 April 2024, in Brussels, Belgium. The meeting was dedicated to discussions on WP 1 – Specifications and requirements for enabling sustainable deep mining. PERSEPHONE aims to address current and future mining challenges by developing pioneering technologies for pushing the limits of EU mining industry and embodiment of autonomous and integrated mine exploration capability to access deep deposits of critical raw materials through hard-to-reach deep and abandoned mines. Within this project LPRC acts as a Associated Partner of INTRAW.

The two-day meeting focused on analysing the tasks of WP 1, which involve the definition of the specifications and requirements that the project team needs to take into account for sustainable deep mining operations in the future. Therefore, discussions involved potential end-user requirements for technologies for exploration and extraction of raw materials, framework conditions and evaluation scenarios for implementation of the new technologies.

The role of LPRC in this project will be the development of technology roadmaps and regulatory frameworks for the future development and implementation of the PERSEPHONE technologies.

Follow the project news on the website and social media.

LPRC co-hosted the recent CRM-geothermal webinar

LPRC, partner in the CRM-geothermal project, co-hosted a webinar between this project and RAWMINA, entitled “Frontier technologies for sustainable extraction of critical raw materials”. Both projects are working towards critical raw materials recovery from mine waste and geothermal fluids, a recent trend in the raw materials field.

Marcio Tameirao Pinto, Project Manager of LPRC, was the co-organizer and co-host of the webinar session. He also presented the ClusterHub ‘Materials for batteries’, where CRM-geothermal is a member. Recording can be seen here.

This webinar was an excellent opportunity to bring together the research and industry communities working on the recovery of critical raw materials, to discuss the innovation in the field.  The recordings of the presentations given are available online.

INVESTIGO Research Fellows 2024

LPRC welcomes the new 3 INVESTIGO Research Fellows!

Three young researchers have joined our multidisciplinary team during the past month of February and will be working with us in our office in Los Llanos de Aridane, La Palma. They have been selected thorough a series of interviews conducted as part of the INVESTIGO Program, funded under the Spanish Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, which belongs to the European Union’s “Next-Generation EU” scheme.

The three selected candidates constitute a complementary team of professionals that will work on the project “ABCanarias – Literacy of the population of La Palma on sustainable development, innovation and technology and experiences of local and regional cooperation”. The project aims at understanding local perspectives and knowledge on the ocean and on renewable energies, hence contributing to boosting La Palma and Canary Islands’ citizens engagement in sustainable development. Besides, through a participatory science approach, the project aims at collecting experiences of local and regional cooperation, to better perceive the strengths, weaknesses, needs, demands, and successes of these actions, and map the crucial role of EU Outermost Regions in the context of European and global transformation of our societies towards sustainability.

LPRC would like to thank all the applicants (even if not selected) for showing interest and motivation in working with us and encourages all of them and, generally, young people, to keep pursuing a career in research.

Do you wish to learn more about the INVESTIGO Program and the ABCanarias Project?

A project website will soon be publicly available, which will outline the project’s concept and objectives, and will be regularly updated with project developments and public announcements. Follow LPRC on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, & stay tuned for more news!

CIRAN Consortium Meeting, Lisbon, Portugal, 22-25 January 2024

The CIRAN project held its annual physical meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, between the 22nd and 25th of January 2024. This event was attended by representatives of the partners as well as members of the Group of Experts. La Palma Research Centre joined the event with five members and hosted a data collection workshop. 

The first day of the CIRAN consortium meeting was dedicated to the partners’ presentations on the different Work Packages that make the project, from the technical to the less technical ones, where partners discussed their work towards the responsible sourcing of critical raw materials in protected zones through a plan for sustainable resource extraction. LPRC presented its work on Task 3.3 – Nexus between policy decisions and drivers of change. 

The second day was dedicated to two data collection workshops. LPRC was responsible for organizing and hosting the first workshop of the day, which was dedicated to scenarios planning. The second workshop was dedicated to policy making. For its workshop the LPRC team created four unique stations to discuss future scenarios for CIRAN based on the assessment of the Drivers of Change, the results from the Delphi Survey and the previously-developed INTRAW geopolitical scenarios. This was a great opportunity to engage with project partners and experts to collect unique views and opinions that will help the LPRC team to create CIRAN Scenarios for 2035. 

On the third day the meeting participants went on a field trip to the municipality of Porto de Mós, where they were given presentations on the conciliation between mining activities and nature conservation, as represented by the quarrying activities within the boundaries of the Serras de Aire and Candeeiros Nature Park, relevant examples for CIRAN’s work. The participants had the chance to visit such quarrying activities and to understand what drives the balance between economic interest and nature protection. 

The final day was dedicated to management aspects, including the planning for the coming year’s activities, where engagement with experts and stakeholders will be a crucial aspect. 

Follow the project on its social media channels and website to keep up-to-date!

FIREFLY Project Consortium Meeting, Tenerife, January 2024

The LPRC team hosted the recent FIREFLY Consortium Meeting in Tenerife, Canary Islands, one year after the start of the project. Partners from all over Europe flew to the Tenerife to engage in two days of discussions on the status of the project and the next steps for the year 2024.

The two days were dedicated to discussions on the work packages that represent the project’s design and implementation towards a flexible, predictive and renewable electricity-powered electrochemical toolbox for a sustainable transition of the catalyst-based European chemical industry. The group discussed topics such as development and validation of AI-based tools, R&D of flexible technologies and Life-cycle sustainability Assessment. La Palma Research Centre, leader of Work Package 2 – Supply of waste catalyst and mapping of relevant resources – and Task 2.2 – Material flow analysis and GIS inventory of relevant resources, presented the work done in 2023.

Sites visits to Tenerife’s recycling industry complemented the meeting with an important technical aspect that can help the FIREFLY partners to develop and implement their tasks.

It was a pleasure to prepare and host the FIREFLY’s project Consortium Meeting. See you next time!

Best wishes to everyone from the La Palma Research Centre team

🇬🇧 La Palma Research Centre team wishes you a very merrychristmas and happy new year full of collaborations, accepted proposals, shared beers after events and face to face kick-offs. We would not be who we are without our colleagues and collaborators and that’s why we are so grateful to have you all in our lives. Season Greetings to all!
🇪🇸 El equipo de La Palma Research Centre quiere desearles a todo una Feliznavidad y un próspero año nuevo lleno de colaboraciones, de propuestas aceptadas, de cervecitas después de los congresos y de kick-offs donde podamos vernos las caras. No seríamos quienes somos sin nuestros colegas y colaboradores y por eso estamos tan agradecidos de tenerlos a todos en nuestra vida. ¡Felices Fiestas!