Mapping Manganese Sources for Sustainable Metallurgy


In the realm of metallurgical innovation, the utilization of resources is a critical factor in driving sustainability and efficiency. Within the HAlMan project, a pioneering initiative aimed at revolutionizing metallurgical processes, a key focus lies in mapping currently underutilized manganese (Mn) sources that could be harnessed to advance the project’s objectives.

Manganese, is a ubiquitous element found in various geological formations worldwide. Its principal use is in steelmaking process as an alloying addition in steel. The main non-metallurgical application of Mn is in the batteries industry to produce battery cathodes, mainly synthetic manganese dioxide, a market which is forecasted to undergo substantial growth in the coming years. In EU manganese is a Strategic Raw material which was also added in the Critical Raw Material list of 2023 due to supply risk increase at the extraction stage caused by lower domestic supply dropping from 32t to 10t (Bulgaria and Hungary production stopped) increasing import reliance. South Africa, Brazil, and Ukraine stand out as major players, collectively holding 65% of global manganese reserves and EU increased its imports from South Africa 41% (33% in 2020) and Gabon 39% (26% in 2020).

The primary manganese minerals found within ore deposits are manganese oxides, often accompanied by manganese carbonatesWhat makes manganese ores particularly intriguing is their potential to contain valuable minor metals such as Niobium (Nb), Cobalt (Co), Strontium (Sr), and Lithium (Li), all classified as Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) in Europe. In light of this, the HAlMan project has undertaken the task of evaluating different manganese sources, with a specific emphasis on ores rich in CRMs.

A fundamental objective of the project involves mapping manganese resources both within Europe and globally. This comprehensive assessment involves the collection, characterization, and evaluation of manganese deposits, categorizing them based on CRM content, including Rare Earth Elements (REEs). By understanding the distribution and characteristics of these resources, the project aims to identify strategic pathways for their efficient utilization in metallurgical processes.

Additionally, the project extends its scope to evaluate other essential primary and secondary raw materials required for HalMan processes, notably iron and flux materials. To this direction, suitable fluxes (primary and secondary) will be examined with potential candidates including limestone, lime, or dolomite primary resources, and wastes or by-products rich in CaCO3, CaO and MgO from metallurgical and mining processes but also from other industrial activities. With a preference for European sources due to their abundance and proximity, a thorough mapping exercise is underway to assess the availability and suitability of these materials for integration into the project’s framework.

Through meticulous research and analysis, the HAlMan project is laying the groundwork for a sustainable and resource-efficient approach to metallurgy. By harnessing the potential of underutilized manganese sources and evaluating complementary raw materials like wastes and by-products mainly from the metallurgical and mining industry, the project aims to drive innovation and foster a more environmentally conscious metallurgical industry.

As the project progresses, the insights gleaned from resource mapping and evaluation will serve as a cornerstone for shaping the future of metallurgical processes, paving the way towards a more sustainable and resilient industrial landscape.

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