LIFE REGS II – Recycling of granite scraps II
Italy is the world’s second-largest feldspar producer (3 million tons/year, 22% of total) and the worlds biggest importer (22% of global world trades). The EU ceramics sector is strongly dependent on feldspar imports from Turkey and strong demand is rapidly depleting the proven reserves in EU Member States; in the future, it will be necessary to find additional feldspars sources or further increase inter-continental transport. The ever-increasing demand for feldspar, for ceramics, glass and other industrial uses, therefore requires the mining of granite and considerable International trade flows. At present, Buddusò-Alà dei Sardi (Italy) is the most important granite production area in Italy, with 66 authorised quarries (12 active), 70% of regional granite production and more than 50% of total Italian production. However, granite mining activities cause serious environmental problems. In Italy, every year 350 000-400 000 m3 of raw granite are extracted, generating the same quantity of waste. Feldspar production and trade generate large amounts of pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions, due either to the Energy consumption of mining activities or from the transport of the finished product from the exporting countries (mainly Turkey and China). The areas where quarries are active suffer from landscape degradation, due to incomplete compliance or non-compliance with quarry recovery plans, considerino that opening new quarries is cheaper than moving large amounts of waste. Finally, granite mining accounts for huge amounts of soil consumption, as it requires large areas in which the quarry waste accumulates.
The LIFE REGS II project aims at demonstrating an innovative and economically-viable extraction technology to produce feldspars, of the same quality to those obtained from virgin raw material, using granite scraps rather than virgin raw material. This will reduce demand for feldspar from environmentally-damaging granite mining operations.
The specific objectives are: