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SURRI: Innovative research on selected post-mining sites

15. 6. 2023

A team of experts from the SURRI project, which focuses on research and innovative solutions in the field of cleaning and treatment of sites after the extraction of strategic raw materials, visited one of the selected sites in the DIAMO state enterprise in Stráž pod Ralskem. The cooperation with DIAMO's Uranium Mining and Processing operation is significant and allows us to take advantage of the wealth of know-how and experience in this area.

The aim of the SURRI project is to carry out a detailed characterisation of selected mining sites, which include, among others, former uranium mines, and to find innovative and effective methods for cleaning and treating water and soil at these sites. Alena Ševců, Martin Palušák, Veronika Hlaváčková, Nhung H. A. Nguyen are part of the CXI team of experts and their task is to investigate the composition of bacterial communities in different types of matrices such as groundwater, tailings or sediment. These communities will be thoroughly evaluated in relation to the concentrations of selected elements. The team is expertly led by Prof. Mohamed Merroun from the partner University of Granada.

One of the key objectives of the project is to isolate bacteria that are suitable for bioleaching or bioprecipitation of strategic elements and contaminants (typically cobalt, copper, lanthanides, etc.) found in post-mining sites. "We are now looking at methods and technologies, such as remediation, that could effectively clean up these sites after past mining. Another interesting research in our project is the isolation of bacteria that have the ability to synthesise metal nanoparticles or immobilise uranium and other contaminants. It is the strategy of the joint bacteria isolation procedure and the design of further experiments that we are discussing during our visit to the state enterprise DIAMO, TÚU," says Martin Palušák from the SURRI team at CXI in Liberec.

The cooperation with DIAMO provides SURRI with valuable insights and allows the results to be applied directly in practice. Characterisation of post-mining sites is essential to understand their current condition and identify key areas for improvement. Through this collaboration, we will be able to provide DIAMO and other stakeholders with concrete information and recommendations for future improvements in site cleanup and treatment.

"We are confident that our research efforts and innovative methods will yield positive results and contribute to environmental protection and sustainable use of strategic raw materials. In the project, we have the opportunity to consult expert practices with our partners from Italy, Spain and the UK, from whom we are yet to learn some techniques," adds Alena Ševců, CXI's applied biology expert.

In the European Union, there is currently a strong emphasis on achieving independence in obtaining strategic raw materials without the need to import them from other countries. The SURRI project focuses on the development and identification of more efficient extraction technologies that will be economically beneficial for the extraction of raw materials, but also minimise negative environmental impacts.

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