Thèse de Jialing Wu

Innovation and circular economy of mineral resources

par Jialing Wu

Sous la direction de Dominique Ami AMU - LEST & Clément Levard CEREGE

En cours 


Rare earths have been identified as a group of the first list of critical raw materials in Europe since 2011. Not “rare” in the Earth’s crust, rare earths are used in a wide range of modern and green technology. But they seem economically “rare” in the sense of causing supply risks to meet the future increasing demand. The supply security of rare earths is challenging as only several countries hold the mining industry tightly. In addition, the mining industry has environmental and radioactivity issues at a local and regional level. Research on sustainable alternatives for rare earths mining production has been largely developed.  The RECALL (RECovery of vALuable metaLs) project, supported by the French Institute of Circular Economy (INEC), is proposed to selectively recover critical metals (e.g. rare earths) in bauxite residues. It could reduce the industrial residue from alumina production via the Bayer process and supply recycled rare earths. Thus, it is crucial to explore whether this project, from a life cycle perspective, could ultimately improve the overall social welfare compared to traditional pyro- and hydrometallurgy processes by internalizing all relevant negative and positive externalities. Social cost-benefit analysis can be an appropriate assessment approach that considers all relative impacts (i.e., economic, social and environmental) and then quantifies in monetary terms the value of all impacts. As such, a macroeconomic analysis can be conducted that analyzes the opportunities and risks of adopting the new project.

Key words
Rare earths, bauxite residue, recycling from secondary resources, social cost-benefit analysis, life cycle analysis