A secure supply of strategic metals that are difficult to substitute for a particular industrial application is crucial for France, and more generally for Europe, so that domestic industries can continue to produce and export their technologies. This security today rests on the complex relationship that France has with countries possessing mineral deposits. Although recycling can not replace the mines, it is clear that the circular economy consisting in particular to recover valuable raw materials contained in the materials will help France to be autonomous and to secure supplies of metals strategic as those identified by the GT3 COMES (cobalt, nickel , rare earths, palladium, platinum, niobium, tantalum).

Even though Europe has significant quantities of strategic metals in waste, the development of a viable circular economy requires implementing extraction technologies that break with conventional processes of extractive metallurgy, developed in a context of mining, for high grade deposits and favorable geology. The hydrometallurgical processes, as opposed to pyrometallurgical processes, have the advantage to process low grade ores and allow better control of co-products with a low environmental impact. Also, with the depletion of deposits and the growing interest in items to low levels (e.g. rare earths), metallurgical industry shows a growing interest for fifteen years on the development of hydrometallurgical processes more responsive to current challenges. The need to develop more efficient, economical and friendly environment processes capable to extract metals from polymetallic and poor matrices whose the composition can vary during the operation is real.

The development of innovative hydrometallurgical technologies, capable of meeting the current challenges, requires consolidation of transversal skills in geology, mineral processing, chemistry and engineering. These skills are all available in the laboratories of the CNRS, but lacked a structural framework, vector for dialogue and collaboration between experts in these areas for innovation in the field of hydrometallurgy of strategic metals. In this context, the French national network PROMETHEE appears particularly relevant since it offers a framework for the meeting of transverse expertises around hydrometallurgy, primary raw materials and secondary urban mining. Among the key areas, some examples cane highlighted such as mineral processing, modeling, molecular chemistry, physical chemistry solutions, soft matter, analytical chemistry, modeling and implementation processes.

Specifically, the implementation of the French national network PROMETHEUS aims to :

  • favor scientific exchanges by gathering people from different fields than hydrometallurgy in order to contribute to the State-of-the-Art and to the development of breakthrough innovations.
  • organize symposia and thematic schools.
  • be a driving force towards our tutorships.
  • create a label for funding agencies and other structures including industries.
  • identify skills in hydrometallurgy for research, teaching ans in-service training.
  • combien teaching and research in order to develop new training courses.