Frances Wall – Integrating primary raw materials into Circular Economy research

Frances Wall*1 & Met4Tech participants2

1Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter @met4tech (website coming soon –

The new UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre for Technology Metals (Met4Tech) is part of a major UK initiative and brings together a consortium of researchers from across the whole system of technology metals to make a ‘roadmap’ for a technology metals circular economy in the UK. Teams at the Universities of Exeter, Leicester, Manchester, Birmingham and the British Geological Survey bring expertise in social science, business systems, life cycle assessment, chemistry, materials, geology and engineering. Given the race to manufacture clean technologies and the consequent rapid increase in demand for technology metals such as lithium, cobalt and neodymium, consideration of primary raw materials is an essential part of this research. Circular economy concepts like, for example, designing out waste and pollution fit well with mining. In Theme 2, we will consider how CE concepts can be incorporated into geomodels and deposit evaluation, including a case study in Cornwall. There will also be a focus on extraction from ores/mine wastes using novel biorecovery, hydro-, iono-metallurgical processes, quantifying value creation potential and links to recycled materials.

Fig 1. Schematic of Met4Tech Circular Economy Centre four thematic areas and cross-cutting themes (


Frances Wall is Professor of Applied Mineralogy at Camborne School of Mines (CSM), University of Exeter. With a background in geochemistry and applied mineralogy of rare earths and other critical raw materials, Frances has been interested in thinking more widely about responsible mining since joining CSM in 2007 and now is now enjoying interdisciplinary research to try to consider the whole minerals value chain.