Research and development lies at the heart of everything we do. Much of it is carried out alongside such prestigious organisations as the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, the National Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration, the University of Patras, the Centre for Metallurgical Industrial Research and Technology Development and the National Technical University of Athens.
- Discovering and developing new uses for EFS
In the manufacture of ferronickel, 85% of the treated ore becomes Electric Furnace Slag (EFS), amounting to approximately 2 million tones annually. Much of LARCO’s Research & Development is today focused on minimising this waste and finding new applications for the remaining essential waste.
These include the use of EFS as:
- a sand-blasting material
- an inert additive in high strength concrete, replacing traditional aggregates
- an additive in Portland cement, due to its renowned hydraulic properties
- a replacement for limestone aggregates in light concrete for the construction of road bases
- a replacement for limestone aggregates in non-slip road surfaces
- a replacement for limestone aggregates in non-slip pavement tiles
Other promising uses under development include the use of EFS:
- in the production of construction materials such as tiles and bricks, giving an increase of about 40% in their mechanical strength without the need to increase their firing temperature
- in the production of fire-proof bricks to be used in fireplaces or thermal accumulators
- as fetling material in metallurgical smelting furnaces
- in the production of high strength alumina cement
The full use of EFS as an aggregate substitute would significantly benefit the environment as fewer raw materials would have to be extracted. So, more land would stay intact and less energy would be consumed in the ceramics, cement, concrete and construction industry.
Other important R&D projects being undertaken by LARCO include:
- Developing a life cycle assessment of mining projects for waste minimization and long term control of rehabilitated sites
Coordinator: Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
The objective of this project is to develop a holistic approach to minimising the total impacts of mining, from exploration and development of a mineral deposit; to mining, processing of the ore, production of the concentrate; waste disposal, remediation; environmental monitoring, decommissioning and long term control and monitoring of the impacts of the mining related activities. LARCO, along with the Imperial College, is firmly focused on achieving this.
- Applying space age technology to environmental aspects of surface mining
Coordinator: Integrated Information Systems (IIS) S.A./MuViReX
The first part of this project is to develop an electronic database for a specific test mining site. This database will be incorporated in a GIS system and will include multidate satellite data and other physical, environmental, geomorphologic, geologic and socio-economic factors.
The second part of the project will then be to develop a methodology based on this database to assist in the planning stage of developing a surface mine and in its subsequent restoration. This will be achieved by:
- visualizing the mine or mine site within its setting
- compiling a detailed database of land-use in the immediate and surrounding areas of the proposed mine
- developing measures of land productivity to be compared with data after mining and restoration
This methodology will be used to assess the environmental impact at both a local and regional scale and to serve as a baseline for assessment of post-mining restoration.