NWE-REGENERATIS - REGENERATIon of Past Metallurgical Sites and Deposits through innovative circularity for raw materials

To optimise (re)use of material and natural resources in North-West Europe

Interreg NWE thematic priority: Resource and materials efficiency 

Project duration: 2019 – 2023

Project Summary

According to JRC (2013), metal working industry represents 13 % of the 2.5 million Potential Contaminated Sites (PCS) in the EU. Consequently, a significant amount of their produced waste was deposited in landfills (37.2% of all PCS). Assessing these figures reveals approx. 100,000 sites with a recovery potential of metals.

While recent metallic waste streams are usually treated, older waste (aggregated material with high ferrous metal content, scrap, other metals, white and black slags and other streams) are considered as a source of pollution, expensive to manage/eliminate. NWE-REGENERATIS aims to transform this problem into an opportunity, as large volumes of resources (metals, materials & land) from Past Metallurgical Sites and Deposits (PMSD) can be recovered by urban-mining. In order to implement this in NWE, NWE-REGENERATIS tackles the sectoral and contextual barriers. The main challenge for stakeholders is the environmental risk and the profitability of recovery processes. Currently all PMSD are managed within a remediation strategy focused on environmental impact/risk. In NWE region PCS inventories are inadequate, as they lack relevant data on the economic potential (quantity, quality & materials value). Traditional exploration methods are not focused on raw materials recovery.

NWE-REGENERATIS delivers an evidence-based solution implemented and tested on 3 sites (including innovative characterization by geophysics, innovative recovery processes guidance, artificial intelligence algorithm), promotes an Harmonized Inventory Structure, and supports new business models for resource recovery from PMSD, by using open source 4D Smart Tool (SMARTIX). Impact is guaranteed by long-term involvement of all NWE-REGENERATIS partners/ associated partners to convince stakeholders. Beneficiaries are public and private PMSD owners, managers and operators. 10 years after: 60 raw materials recovery projects launched on PMSD throughout NWE, 3 million tons of valuable materials recovered and 3000 jobs created.

Project Partners

  • Société Publique d'Aide à la Qualité de l'Environnement (SPAQuE), BE – Lead Partner
  • Materials Processing Institute (MPI), UK
  • Centre Technologique International de la Terre et de la Pierre (CTP), BE
  • Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM), FR
  • Université de Liège, BE
  • Openbare Vlaamse Afvalstoffenmaatschappij (OVAM), BE
  • TEAM2, FR
  • Technische Hochschule Köln, DE
  • Bergischer Abfallwirtschaftsverband (BAV), DE
  • Cranfield University, UK


Total budget received from Interreg North-West Europe: € 4.23 million of ERDF

Total Project Budget: € 7.06 million