ESI’s Metals, Minerals and the Environment (MME) Program provides the tools, knowledge, and methodologies to address the outsize environmental costs of mining and resource extraction, a monumental challenge for meeting the infrastructure, transportation and consumption needs of the 21st century. Drawing on a deep, multidisciplinary portfolio of MIT research on the extraction and processing of metals and minerals, the MME Program engages directly with some of the largest players in the industry, to help deploy innovative technologies and environmentally and socially conscious business strategies throughout a global supply chain.
Through the MME Program, ESI connects mining companies and other stakeholders with MIT faculty to address challenges in the following areas:
From conflict materials to e-waste, the global trade in metals and minerals can negatively impact communities from the site of mining to the site of disposal. Improving the tracking of materials, and understanding the upstream and downstream supply chain, can help companies transition from unsustainable or unfair practices while encouraging optimal recycling and reuse.
Whether operating in small communities or large urban centers, mines are major economic engines, sources of employment, and shapers of the environment around them. As such, they have a unique responsibility to understand and respect the social and cultural context of their employees and other stakeholders, and the ecological context of their operations.
Responsible for about 10% of global energy use and more than 1/3 of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions, the metals and minerals industry is increasingly prioritizing emissions reduction. The MME Program explores novel operations and technologies to monitor and mitigate emissions and set science-based reduction targets. Promising technologies include electrolytic and plasma processes, green solvents, more selective separation processes, electrification of transport power and direct metal value recovery from minerals.
Waste from the metals and minerals industry often needs expensive treatment and long-term storage to mitigate its environmental impact. At the same time, there are opportunities to reduce costs and extract value from waste streams. Technologies to recover high-value materials and improve effluent treatment, as well as novel storage strategies and infrastructure, are among the solutions being developing at MIT.
The MME Program works hand-in-hand with industry actors and is actively seeking new partnerships and sustainability projects. Companies partnering with ESI through the MME Program will have opportunities to:
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