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It is with great pleasure that SIM² can announce that it has secured Horizon Europe funding for the ENICON project, which stands for “Sustainable processing of Europe’s low-grade sulphidic and lateritic nickel/cobalt ores and tailings into battery-grade metals”. ENIICON is a 4-year Research and Innovation Action.


How to provide Europe with a secure supply of battery-grade Ni/Co for our future (NMC) Li-ion battery needs, and thereby decrease its dependency on China, Russia (!), DRC and Indonesia for these essential energy-transition metals?

Enter ENICON

ENICON’s meta-objective is to support the improvement and development of, resp., existing and new refining capacity for battery-grade Ni and Co. This allows to process both domestic and imported Ni/Co primary and secondary resources. Europe’s domestic resources comprise sulphidic Ni/Co ores and derived Ni/Co containing pyrite & silicate tailings, as well as limonitic/saprolitic laterite Ni(/Co) ores.

In contrast with so many other European projects on critical raw materials, ENICON does not target the use of (expensive) neoteric solvents such as ionic liquids or deep eutectic solvents but, instead, develops and/or improves circular hydrometallurgical (HCl-based) and pyrometallurgical (incl. H2) flowsheets. Concurrently, ENICON also has key attention for developing matrix valorisation technologies (incl. alkali activation) for all residual mineral fractions.  

ENICON partners

For this project, SIM² KU Leuven teamed up with some of Europe’s key Ni/Co industry players (Boliden, Glencore, Larco, Euronickel, Finncobalt), while bringing in core expertise from four leading research organisations (VITO, Aalto, UNEXE, VITO). The project is spearheaded by SOLVOMET/SIM² KU Leuven’s tandem Prof. Koen Binnemans and Dr. Peter Tom Jones.

The project is set to start on June 1, 2022, pending the successful completion of the on-going Grant Agreement Process.

ENICON WP Leaders 

Hannah Hughes (UNEXE), Anders Sand (Boliden), Mari Lundstrom (Aalto), Arne Peys (VITO), Kostas Komnitsas (TUC), Anna Kritikaki (TUC), Lucian Onisei (KU Leuven), Giorgian Dinu (KU Leuven)