From Trentino to Sardinia, a new life for metal mines

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The production of underground metals has ceased for some time, but now new scenarios are opening up for dormant metal mines. And new paths, although the times are not particularly fast, which range from restart projects, to the search for new deposits up to the reuse of tunnels and wells to place servers, or start scientific studies.

What started a sort of race were the effects of international conflicts which led to a reduction in the supply of raw materials with a consequent increase in costs and, at the same time, the need for European countries to achieve a sort of independence in production of critical materials. Italy also plays an important role in the entire picture, thanks to the deposits present in most of the regions, with greater potential between Sardinia, Lazio, Tuscany, Lombardy, Trentino Alto Adige and Piedmont. Peculiarities that clash with very long authorization times and, sometimes, with low mineral concentrations.

First step: exploration and research

This scenario foresees two developments. The first is that of research and exploration permits preparatory to the reconstruction of mining sites and therefore entry into production. In this case in Italy there is a lot of search for Lithium (Cesano di Roma), Graphite, Titanium, Cobalt, Fluorite, Galena and Blenda and various other materials included among the critical elements. However, it will take a long time before research moves on to extraction and processing. Both for authorizations and for infrastructures. «From the first step to the eventual entry into production – underlines Fabio Granitzio, a mining geologist with experience at a national and international level – approximately fifteen years pass, also because projects very often have to deal with local contexts and bureaucracy».

New life for Italian metal mines

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Reopen closed metal mines

A simpler path to follow, in theory, is that of the mines in sleep and to be awakened where the times “everything goes well” fluctuate between “5 and 7 years”. For the moment, there are only two sites where work is underway to restart metal mines or deposits with the potential to exploit critical materials (the other mining complexes operating in Italy do not have these characteristics): Gorno and Silius.

The first is located in the province of Bergamo where for years the Australian Altamin, through Energia Minerals, has been working to get the production cycle back on track. This is the same company that presented requests for research permits for Cobalt and Graphite in Piedmont, then other requests in Emilia Romagna, Liguria and Lazio where work is being done on the Lithium project.

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