Sustainable processing of Europe's low-grade sulphidic and lateritic nickel/cobalt ores and tailings into battery-grade metals

ENICON researchers at RawMat2023 Conference in Athens, Greece


The ENICON researchers Seyedehmaryam Sadeghi and Brecht Dewulf (SOLVOMET / SIM2 KU Leuven) and Nivea Magalhaes (University of Exeter) have presented their latest research in the framework of the Horizon Europe ENICON project at the RawMat2023 Conference in Athens, Greece (, 28 August – 2 September 2023). This conference brought together the academic community, engineers, early-stage scientists as well as senior scientists, industry executives, stakeholders and policy makers, and other professionals in the field of raw materials and circular economy for a comprehensive, cross-discipline exchange of knowledge. Recent advances in metallurgy and mineral and processing technologies, mining trends and perspectives, sustainable metallurgy as well as the EU industrial strategy for a circular and resource efficient economy were highlighted throughout this five-day event.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), there could be a 20-fold increase in demand for nickel and cobalt by 2040 to meet the needs of an increasingly electrified world. In order to satisfy the domestic demand, Europe should also focus on its own (low-grade) laterite and sulfide Co/Ni ores and secondary materials, as presented during the talks of Maryam and Brecht on Horizon Europe ENICON ( They highlighted the novel HCl-process for the leaching of European Co/Ni resources, with leaching being caried out at atmospheric conditions and lower temperatures compared to traditional processes (e.g. HPAL), and solvent extraction for cobalt and nickel purification focusing on the recovery of chemicals and avoiding waste production, in accordance with the Twelve Principles of Circular Hydrometallurgy.1Moreover, a session on Energy Transition Metals co-organized by Horizon Europe EXCEED and Horizon Europe ENICON brought together academia and industry to discuss current trends and challenges for the transition towards a net-zero economy.

The presentations / poster are made available below:


(1)        Binnemans, K.; Jones, P. T. The Twelve Principles of Circular Hydrometallurgy. J. Sustain. Metall. 20229 (1), 1–25.

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