The research project will focus on the occurrence and mobility of critical metals in groundwater in Sweden. Critical metals are needed to transform into a green society, but at present we do not know their geochemical behavior in nature. The EU wants to increase the domestic production of these metals to achieve the European Green Deal by 2050, and according to SGU (swedish geological survey) several of these metals could be produced in Sweden.
"In order to have a sustainable production, we must understand the behavior of the metals in nature to secure a responsible mine waste and water management", says Lina Hällström.
Groundwater is our "invisible water" that is found in the ground and a valuable water resource. It is therefore important that we have high-quality groundwater, which the Government has also chosen to invest in during the coming years. At present, we do not know the concentrations of critical metals which are naturally present in the groundwater.
"It is important to know these background levels, otherwise we have nothing to compare with and can not determine if it will change in the future", says Lina Hällström.
Furthermore, areas of risk to leach high concentrations of critical metals to the groundwater have not been eluciated in Sweden. In this project, we will study that. First, there will be an overall study of Sweden to find places where the metals can leach out. We will then study 2-4 places in detail to see if they leach out, why they leach out and what happens to the water quality and ecosystems if they leach out. By understanding this, we can continue to work towards a sustainable green transition and know how to take care of waste that will be produced with it.