The research carried out in work packages (WPs) 2,3 and 4 constitute the technological core of the CHROMIC project, where innovative methods and processes to extract the target elements Cr, V, Nb and Mo from slags are developed and tested. As for the first stage of any research, all this happens in the labs, and it is compartmentalized in different activities focused on reaching different targets that, once pieced together, will form an end-to-end stream – from the raw material to the final product. To get there, the implemented processes must be tested as a whole and with larger quantities of materials in a production-like environment (upscaling and validation): this is what happens, in a nutshell, in WP5.


To get a more detailed picture of the stage of the project in which the research effort culminate, we talked to Frédérique Bouillot, research and development engineer with Orbix, a service provider company specialized in slag treatment for the steelworks and leader of WP5. What follows is an account of what Bouillot told us about the work that has been done at Orbix.


As mentioned, the aim of WP5 is to validate the identified metallurgical processes. That means testing the processes selected at lab scale with larger amounts of materials and bigger equipment, and performing all the steps of a process (flowsheet) one after the other, the stream coming out of a unit operation being the input of the next one. In CHROMIC this validation procedure takes place at “Technology Readiness Level” (TRL) 5: the Technology Readiness Level is a standard method to estimate the maturity of technologies and ranges from level 1 (defined as “Basic principles observed”) to level 9 (“Actual system proven in operational environment”); level 5 means the technology is “validated in relevant environment”. In WP5 the selected processes are tested on equipment that can be upscaled at industrial level.


To do so, Orbix received data from the WPs that studied separately each step of the process. WP2 gave information about the physical pre-treatment of the material; WP3 indicated how to proceed with the leaching step; and WP4 provided the relevant data for the recovery of the target elements from leachates. All CHROMIC partners are thus involved in WP5: BRGM for the preparation step; MEAM and FEhS for roasting; TUK for leaching; HZDR for metal recovery; VITO, FehS and Orbix itself for the valorization of the residual (metal-depleted) matrix. Moreover, Orbix shares information with the partners in charge of the assessment of the whole process (Arche and VITO – WP1), and with BFI, whose task is to calculate the parameters for the industrial scale. Importantly, the information collected and the general assessment performed in WP1 take into consideration not only the technical efficiency, but also the environmental and economic aspects involved in the process to validate.



Photo shibang from Pixabay


On 18th November 2019, the CHROMIC project was invited to present in the “Horizon 2020 Technology success stories” at the Raw Materials week (18-22 November 2019) in Brussels.



After a brief introduction on the overall CHROMIC concept, the talk (given by coordinator Liesbeth Horckmans) focused on the technological challenges and the importance of ensuring economic and environmental sustainability of the developed technologies. The key issues identified by the 1st iteration of the integrated assessment were discussed, and some examples were given of how these results were used to further improve the processes.


The full programme, presentations and photos are available for download at


“How to define the impact of new technologies?” was the title of a workshop on Sustainability Assessment (SA) organized on the 21st of November 2019 in Brussels by NEMO in collaboration with CHROMIC, METGROW+ and NEW-MINE, as a Satellite Event to the 4th Raw Materials Week. Approximately 20 participants from academia, research, industry and government discussed the challenges and future of sustainability assessment in the field of raw materials and beyond. The present article reports on the key lessons learned from the presentations and lively debate, and looks forward to the next events in this clustering track.


On 21st November, CHROMIC will participate in the satellite event of the Raw Materials Week 2019 named “How to define the impact of new technologies? A workshop on Sustainability assessment”. The workshop will gather a broad cluster of EU H2020 projects such as METGROW+(, NEMO( and CHROMIC itself, to discuss important issues regarding the economic sustainability and the beneficial impacts for the environment and for the whole society of the processes that are being developed to recover and valorize raw materials.

Questions such as how to determine the impact of resource recovery versus landfilling for such new processes and technologies will be presented and carefully addressed in an interactive debate aiming to formulate policy recommendations.

The event will take place at Le Plaza Hotel, Adolphe Maxlaan 118/126, 1000 Brussel.

To register, visit this page:

The programme of the workshop is the following:

14.00: Welcome and introduction to the workshop

14.15: Sustainability in recovering metals from secondary resources: Approach and lessons learned in METGROW+ and CHROMIC (Yoko Dams, VITO and Koen Oorts, ARCHE)

14.35: Sustainability in the mining sector: Approach and lessons learned in NEMO (Andrea di Maria, KU Leuven)

14.50: Sustainability in enhanced landfill mining: Approach and lessons learned in NEW-MINE (Karel Van Acker, KU Leuven)

15.00: Summary and common issues

15.15: coffee break

15.45-16.45: Interactive discussion

16.45: wrap-up and outlook to next event

17.00 – 18.00: networking cocktail


Our project coordinator Liesbeth Horckmans (VITO) will be speaking at the EU Raw Materials Week 2019 (Brussels, 18th-22nd November). She was invited to present the progress of CHROMIC during the event named “Horizon 2020 Technology Success Stories”, which will take place on the 18th.

The Raw Materials Week is the most important EU annual event in the sector, gathering a wide range of stakeholders to discuss raw materials policy and initiatives, to provide guidance to the European Commission, Members States and private actors on innovative approaches to the challenges related to raw materials.

The “Horizon 2020 Technology Success Stories” event is focused on tangible results and impact of the H2020 projects in the area of raw materials and more broadly on the benefits that industry and society will gain from their developments. Horckmans will participate in the session “Raw materials processing and recovery”, alongside, among others, representatives of CHROMIC’s closely related projects FAME (, METGROW+ ( and SCALE (

This represents an important opportunity to team up among projects that share the same overall goals of developing technologies to strengthen the mineral sector and improve the circular economy in the EU. The exchange of outcomes and methodologies that will result from the joint participation to the event will contribute to the accomplishments of those objectives.

Furthermore, as CHROMIC is now entering its final year, the event will also be useful for taking stock of all the work that has been done so far, as well as for gaining extra momentum to proficiently deal with the challenges that remain to be tackled.

30 September 2019 Events

Matti Buyle with VITO presented his research work within CHROMIC at the 9th International Conference on Life Cycle Management (LCM), which took place on 1st – 4th September in Poznan, Poland. The LCM conference series is one of the world’s leading forums for environmental, economic and social sustainability, focusing on practical solutions for the implementation of life cycle approaches into effective decision-making, whether in science, industry, NGOs or public bodies.

Buyle gave a talk in the special session “Emerging Technologies – Sustainable Future or Rising Risks?”. His presentation mainly focused on estimating the environmental impact of a technology on an industrial scale, based on lab-scale data only. By using the preliminary data of one slag type (CS slag), he showed how in CHROMIC the first steps have been taken to upscale the lab results and get an idea of the environmental profile on an industrial scale.

As Buyle reported, “This is particularly relevant, as the first iteration in CHROMIC is done and the presented results – even though very preliminary and highly uncertain – could be used to streamline further research efforts in the next iteration”.  

On 26th September Kathy Bru with BRGM will present the CHROMIC project at a technical event organized by AFOCO, an association that deals with the valorization and management of industrial by-product, bringing together the main French operators in the sector. The event is called “Creating economic and environmental value? With the alternative materials of course!” and will take place in Lille, France.

All the details about the event at

On 9th September dr. Niall O’Toole with HZDR presented a poster about CHROMIC at the ILSEPT 2019 International Conference on Ionic Liquids in Separation and Purification Technology (Melia Sitges, Sitges, Spain). The poster – prepared with HZDR colleagues Alexander Mansel, Norman Kelly and Christiane Scharf – was titled “Separation and recovery of chromium and vanadium from alkaline leaching solutions of Cr-V-bearing slags” and illustrated the research on solvent extraction carried out in CHROMIC.

ILSEPT 2019 is aimed at being an event in which researchers in academia and industry can share and discuss cutting edge results on the use of ionic liquids in separation applications. As reported by O’Toole, the CHROMIC research on solvent extraction met the interest of many participants working in the field of chemical separation.


The CHROMIC’s results will be presented at EUROCLAY 2019 ( by VITO’s researcher Elena M. Seftel. EUROCLAY is one of the most important scientific meetings in the field of clays and clay minerals, an event taking place every four years, in which the latest cutting-edge results of this research area are presented. The forthcoming edition of the event will be held at Pierre & Marie Curie University (UPMC) in the center of Paris, France, from 1st to 5th July.

Two contributions will show the research conducted by VITO within CHROMIC. The first one is a poster titled “Sorption of metal oxyanions from complex solutions by layered double hydroxide (LDHs) type anionic clays” will be part of the session “Layered double hydroxides for Future Earth”, whereas the second, an oral presentation called “Clay-based structured composites for oxyanions uptake from aqueous waste effluents” (realized in collaboration with the Laboratory of Adsorption and Catalysis of the University of Antwerpen), will be presented during the session “Clay and clay minerals in ceramics: from industrial to new hierarchical/textural materials”.

On Wednesday 26 June dr. Niall O’Toole from HZDR will give a talk about research carried out within CHROMIC at the European Metallurgical Conference (EMC), in Düsseldorf, Germany.

The topic of the presentation will be the development of a solvent extraction process for recovery of chromium and vanadium from steel slags, which is one of the main scientific and technological tasks tackled in CHROMIC.

The EMC is one of the most important international conference and meeting for metallurgists and engineers from the non-ferrous industry and research institutes in Europe. Besides its relevance, the event is particularly focused on the theme of sustainability, a founding theme of the CHROMIC project’s philosophy.

Further information about the European Metallurgical Conference 2019 at the conference website

This project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program under Grant Agreement n° 730471

effiCient mineral processing and Hydrometallurgical RecOvery of by-product Metals from low-grade metal contaIning seCondary raw materials