Beauvoir mine. BRGM and IMERYS are working together on the stabilisation of lithium processing residues for environmental purposes. © Imerys - Beauvoir (Philippe Zamora)
The partner interview
Jean-François Claver Chief Industrial Officer Imerys
Imerys has just signed a framework agreement with BRGM. For what purpose?
Jean-François Claver – Imerys is the world leader in speciality minerals for industry: minerals that have many applications such as bleaching agents in paper, additives giving different effects in paints, or products for the manufacture of automotive plastics. In all, we have 30 non-metallic minerals to date and we operate along the entire chain: extraction, processing, mineral transformation and removal of impurities. Our deliverables include products in the form of grains with the level of impurities below a certain threshold. We operate in 40 countries with 200 industrial sites, including about 30 in France. We have signed an agreement with BRGM to gain access to the leading experts on topics such as the responsible sourcing of critical metals such as lithium, the development of innovative approaches to carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) and the development of an overall environmental approach to mining sites, particularly in the management of mine tailings and water resources.
How do you collaborate with BRGM?
J.-Fr.C. – In the mining sector, as 90% of our quarries are open-pit, we face a number of issues: exploration and identification of deposits, mining plans, management of tailings, etc. Environmental aspects are at the forefront of our concerns: impact on water and biodiversity and all issues related to the remediation of post-extraction sites. Of course there is also the issue of the safety of personnel. In the specialised areas of processing, personnel safety, the efficiency of the transformation or refining processes and environmental impact mitigation, notably with regard to water and CO2 emissions, BRGM is number one in France and Imerys has always wished to work with the best scientists. We have been working together for more than 20 years on specific or one-off topics. With the 2022 framework agreement, our joint work is organised, optimised and coordinated by the respective Imerys and BRGM managers. We have several tasks in progress, structured as projects for which BRGM provides its expertise. These essentially comprise applied work, testing technologies with the Imerys R&D teams. For Carbon Capture, Use and Storage, we are testing different technologies in a pilot project. For the lithium mine project in Beauvoir, we are working with BRGM on the stabilisation of tailings from lithium processing for environmental purposes, as well as downstream processes.
Any final comment?
J.-Fr.C. – With this partnership, Imerys and BRGM are better equipped to work together to meet the major challenges now and in the future, particularly those related to sustainable development in the mining industry.