– The demand for critical metals is increasing worldwide to achieve the UN's climate goals. If graphite and cobalt will be mined in Sweden to support domestic battery production, fundamental innovative explorations tools are required to find these metals, also knowledge on environmentally friendly extraction techniques and how to minimize waste and manage water and waste in a sustainable way. This is done within CAMM, says Lena Alakangas , Professor of Applied Geochemistry at CAMM at Luleå University of Technology.
Focus on free and need-driven research
In CAMM (Center For Advanced Mining and Metallurgy), researchers at Luleå University of Technology have for a decade studied material properties and mining-related processesneeded in the development of new innovation methods. CAMM has been of great importance when Luleå University of Technology consolidated its role as a leading university in research and education in mining and metallurgy, in Sweden and Nordic countries,
–Through free and need-driven research, we have the opportunity to carry out research when ideas comes up, aiming at sustainable solutions of benefit for society and industry, says Caisa Samuelsson, professor in Process Metallurgy at Luleå University of Technology.
Mining research at Luleå University of Technology internationally leading
CAMM started in 2010 by LTU and the research institute Swerim (then Mefos) as a partner. CAMMis one of the Strategic Research Areas (SRAs) initiated by the government,aiming to find solutions to important societal challenges by establishment of internationally leading research centers. The government selected research environments that were already international leaders or had great potential to become so. One such area was the mining and metallurgy research at Luleå University of Technology. Today, Luleå University of Technology is a center for mining and metallurgy-related research, innovation and education in Sweden.
The research subjects within CAMM with a focus on the mining and metallurgical industry are mining and rock engineering, ore geology, applied geochemistry, exploration geophysics, mineral processing and process metallurgy. The research within CAMM is need-driven research at a low Technology Readiness Level (TRL) (1-4) meaning that the researchers define and run projects in dialogue with the industry. More than 160 researchers at Luleå University of Technology are involved in CAMM, of which 30 percent are women.
The importance of research on low TRL increases for the mining industry
Within CAMM, research includes exploration of new ores, development of extraction methods and mineral processing, waste and water management and recycling. Today, there is increased demand for critical metals in Sweden that require innovative exploration, and mining, extraction and refining methods that reduce environmental impact. Sweden has great opportunities to mine several metals and minerals in addition to iron, base metals and precious metals, and at the same time increase the recycling rate.
–The importance of a research at lower TRL improves the possibility for future production-oriented, applied research in advanced mining and metallurgy industry in Sweden, says Lena Alakangas.