Recovery of Tungsten, Niobium and Tantalum occurring as by-products in mining and processing waste streams (TARANTULA)
Research Project, 2019 – 2023

The extraordinary properties of refractory metals, the unlikeliness of their future substitution and their use in booming industries will sustain a high EU demand for tungsten (W), niobium (Nb) and tantalum (Ta). Despite all three being classified as Critical Raw Materials (CRM) by the European Commission (EC), fractions of these indispensable metals are dissipated as by-products in mining waste streams as well as process scrap. To stimulate their recovery from such complex, low-grade resources, TARANTULA will develop a suite of cost-effective, scalable and eco-friendly – bio-, hydro-, iono-, solvo-, pyro- and electro-metallurgical – processes with high selectivity and recovery rates. These novel technologies, each representing an alternative for one or more process steps of state-of-the-art (SoA) processing lines, will form new routes towards market-ready metals, metal oxides and metal carbides. Flexibility will be the cornerstone of the overall process flowsheet to enable recovery of all three elements (W, Nb, Ta), thereby minimising the CAPEX required for future processing installations. Following systematic research and innovation activities at lab scale, the envisioned technologies will be brought to TRL3-5 and, based on performance, validated at prototype level by experienced industrial partners. In parallel, future by-product recovery will be supported by carrying out a comprehensive identification and assessment of existing un/underexploited secondary sources of W, Nb and Ta. The generated information – in compliance with all pertinent laws and regulations - will feed into the Raw Materials Information System (RMIS) which will boost the impact of the project far beyond the current consortium. Finally, TARANTULA will blueprint tailored Communication, Dissemination and Civil Society Engagement strategies with respect to obtaining and maintaining the “Social License to Operate” for future heavy-duty metallurgical processing.


Mark Foreman (contact)

Chalmers, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Energy and Material



Karlsruhe, Germany


Dun, France

Flemish Institute for Technological Research

Mol, Belgium

ICAMCyL Foundation

Armunia (León), Spain


Sevilla, Spain

KU Leuven

Leuven, Belgium

Optimizacion Orientada a la Sostenibilidad sl

Sevilla, Spain

PNO Consultants

Zaventem, Belgium


Salamanca, Spain

Sidenor Investigación y Desarrollo S.A.,

Basauri, Spain


Porsgrunn, Norway

Strategic Minerals Spain

Madrid, Spain

Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center

Lasne, Belgium

University of Liège

Liege, Belgium


European Commission (EC)

Project ID: EC/H2020/821159
Funding Chalmers participation during 2019–2023

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