Local alliance on mining legacies with support of a broad public community

The recomine-alliance receives funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the program Innovation and structural transformation / WIR!. Supporting local projects within the intersection of environmental technologies, resource technologies and digitalisation, represents the aim of the alliance. Mining legacies are commonly regarded as either residual resources or residual environmental hazards. The recomine-alliance has a holistic approach instead. Providing an innovative technology-platform allows local stakeholders networking and developing technologies with a distinct goal: the combination of exploiting disperse resources and remediation of the mining legacies. Scientific institutions, industrial companies, trading companies, public authorities and the broader public society hold significant stewardships for realising the according activities. Former mining and smelting plant sites face similar problems all over the planet. Thus, recomine envisages to developing new solutions on mine waste using the long-established expertise of companies, research institutions, governmental and non-governmental organisations in the Bohemian and Saxonian Ore Mountains. This Czech/German mountain range represents a model region enabling to test and to scale up new technologies and new forms of stakeholder engagements.   

Two leading scientific institutions set new and targeted impulses in the Ore Mountains: the TU Bergakademie Freiberg (TUBAF) and the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) at the Helmholtz Center Dresden Rossendorf e. V. (HZDR). The HIF and the TUBAF initiated the recomine-alliance. Currently, the HIF coordinates the project’s framework and the activities of a steering committee. The committee splits several tasks to distinguished partner institutions. The TU Bergakademie Freiberg manages the transfer of technology and the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research Leipzig (UFZ) deals with public acceptance of modern technologies including modern site mediation concepts. Another two companies significantly support the recomine steering committee in communicating to stakeholders from the Czech Republic (Wirtschaftsförderung Erzgebirge GmbH / Public Business Development Company from the Ore Mountain Region) and from governmental institutions (SAXONIA Standortentwicklungs- und –verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH/ Public Property Management and Remediation Company). Numerous further institutions that deal with remediation concepts, resource processing, recycling, environmental technologies and company consulting, support the steering committee with their expertise. More than 70 institutions actively participate in the recomine-alliance.

The major attempt of the recomine-alliance is developing a common strategy in progressing the according fields of innovation of the member institutions organised in recomine. A high novelty in methodologies stands out globally and likewise the model region of the Ore Mountains. All recomine-projects involve the broader local society. Topics like future forms of employment or securing the next generation of engineers attract involvements of privately organised education schools as well as the public schools and universities. Accordingly, recomine focuses on a stakeholder engagement beyond mining and environmental protection and transforms the civil society in the Ore Mountains to stewards in mining and legacy remediation.


Resource-oriented environmental technologies for the 21st century

Development fields for innovation-based structural change in the Ore Mountains

The recomine-alliance has the vision to further developing regionally grown competences in the field of environmental technologies towards the development of disperse raw material sources. Typical contaminated sites such as the testing and demonstration sites in the Ore Mountains are examples of contaminated sites worldwide, which can be meaningful for the humankind. Remediation of such locations can be financially feasible by recovering the remaining raw materials to reduce the remediation costs.

Topic issues of the recomine-projects include the three mining contaminated site types:

  1. Tailings and Mining Dumps;
  2. Mine and Tailing Drainage Waters;
  3. Slags and Ashes.

The regional industry and research institutions have remarkable knowledge in automation and sensor technology, which enables establishing future-proof and efficient technologies with maximum efficiency.

The history of mining and metallurgy in the Ore Mountains, built over the centuries, characterizes the region as an ideal model location for the development of resource-oriented environmental technologies in pilot and demonstration plants and enhancing them for the international market. For this purpose, four development sites are initially being set up in the recomine-alliance: (1) the Davidschacht tailing site in Freiberg, (2) the Mine Water Site Roter Graben in Freiberg and Tuttendorf (below (1)), (3) the tailing sites and mine water drainage tunnel in Ehrenfriedersdorf, (4) the historic smelter site Muldenhütten. At these and, if applicable, other development locations, mining legacies can be used for technology development, training and research purposes.


The intersections of the development fields of the recomine-alliance are based on a broad social basis.

Economic potential for a long-term alliance

Current research projects at national, European and global levels show the economic potential and the great interest in resource-oriented environmental technologies. The developments on the global raw materials market also show that the processing of contaminated sites with large volumes can be financially rewarding. In projects dealing with the processing of contaminated sites, the focus is usually on raw material extraction. However, environmental or stability issues play an increasingly important role and create pressure on the stakeholders involved in mining and dealing with its properties. The economic potential for the development and implementation of the recomine-technologies is clearly in the combination of the mine sites remediation with the resource extraction.

Abbildung 2: Das Bild zeigt einen Bohrkern aus einer Altlast des Zinnbergbaus in Altenberg. Die Farbe des frisch geöffneten Bohrkerns wird mithilfe einer Farbskala für eine Bohrkernbeschreibung einges

The figure shows a drill core from a tin mine legacy in Altenberg. The color of the freshly opened drill core is assessed using a color scale for a drill core description.


Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) will celebrate its birthday together with Saxonian Minister President Michael Kretschmer and interested guests on September 9, 2021. The number 10 plays an important role for both the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF). In addition to the 10-year affiliation of the HZDR with the Helmholtz Association, the HIF looks back on 10 very successful years at the research location of Freiberg. Furthermore, the HIF inaugurates its new metallurgy pilot plant on September 9, 2021. The inauguration marks another milestone in the development of a unique campus for resource technology and progresses sustainability steadily at HIF. The HIF will celebrate this progress and cordially invites you!

The new metallurgy pilot plant at HIF. ©HZDR/599Media

Can the recycling of mining waste become a new business? That was the main question addressed in the Lunch Event & Debate organised by the Horizon2020 NEMO project on April 27, 2021.

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gKXbOik3dc

You can find more information on the website of the project Nemo (https://h2020-nemo.eu/2021/03/11/recycling-mining-waste-a-new-business-april-27-2021/).

Eight partner from science and industry participate in the research project “TerZinn – Technologieentwicklung und Erprobung für nachhaltiges Wassermanagement und additive Rohstoffgewinnung am Modellstandort Zinnerzgrube Ehrenfrieders-dorf“: Zinnerz Ehrenfriedersdorf GmbH, G.E.O.S. Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH, Wis-mut GmbH, BIT Tiefbauplanung GmbH, ibes AG, Kurt-Schwabe-Institut für Mess- und Sensortechnik Meinsberg e.V., TU Bergakademie Freiberg and the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS. The Federal Ministry of Edu-cation and Research (BMBF) funds the project with around one million euros. TER-ZINN belongs to the alliance “recomine – rethinking resources”, which works on the subject of mining waste at the intersection of environmental technology, resource technology and digitalization.

Complete press release:

On 18th of February 2021 the recomine-project TERZinn starts as the first of currently eight selected projects of the first recomine-call. Over the next three years, a digital underground measurement system will be developed and tested in the historic Ehrenfriedersdorf mine site. Newly developed sensors will record current information from the incoming mine water and pass it on to a modular water treatment system, which will then decide how heavily the water needs to be treated depending on the water contamination (e.g. with Arsenic). The system will then be further developed for use in the Ore Mountains and around the world, and will sustainably improve water quality in many mining regions.