Energy Reduction and Improved Critical Mineral Recovery From Low-Grade Disseminated Sulphide Deposits and Mine Tailings

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Houghton, Michigan
Project Term:
01/31/2023 - 01/30/2026

Technology Description:

Michigan Technological University (MTU) will achieve a decrease of 10 wt% CO2 equivalent per tonne of ore processed compared with current methods for primary nickel extraction by a) storing CO2 in CO2-reactive minerals and b) recovering an additional 80% of energy-relevant minerals from nickel-bearing minerals in mine tailings. MTU will achieve these two major goals by developing accelerated carbon mineralization and carbon negative metal extraction technologies. MTU will demonstrate 200 kg of CO2 storage per tonne of magnesium-rich and iron-rich silicate minerals in nickel mine tailings within 4 hours with 10% energy reduction compared with state-of-the-art. With these technologies, an estimated 2.2 million tonnes of CO2 per year could be permanently and safely sequestered in subaqueous tailing storage facilities. The additional 12-15 million lbs of nickel per year that can be recovered from existing and future U.S. nickel operations will produce 150,000 electric vehicles batteries. The nickel produced with this new technology will have a comparable cost with lower total energy use and lower greenhouse gas emissions compared with current production methods.

Potential Impact:

The MINER program aims to use the reactive potential of CO2-reactive ore materials to decrease mineral processing energy and increase the yield of energy-relevant minerals via novel negative emission technologies.


MINER metrics meet the U.S. need for net-zero, commercial-ready technologies that provide energy-relevant minerals for economic and national security.


In addition to demonstrating carbon negativity, the proposed technologies will quantify and reduce our impact on environmental and human health by addressing ecotoxicity, acidification of air, smog, water pollution, and more.


MINER metrics specify increasing the yield of energy-relevant minerals by reducing unrecovered energy-relevant minerals in tailings in by 50% compared with state of the art.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Douglas Wicks
Project Contact:
Dr. Lei Pan
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