Minerals in Circular Economy (MINCE)

First international conference on minerals in Circular Economy organised by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, GTK Geological Survey of Finland, Aalto University, University of Oulu 26-27 November 2014


The modern society is based on using mineral commodities: their total consumption correlates with economic growth and urbanization. Due to population growth on the global level, the total consumption of mineral raw materials is expected to increase. At the same time, the transition towards a circular economy plays a key role in decreasing per capita consumption of minerals. For this transition to happen, top class scientific research that allows for knowledge transfer between different segments of the mineral value chain is required. Sustainable mining, enhanced material recovery, better material and product design, and sustainable resource policies are all essential parts of the science to meet the demands of the circular economy. They are also closely supported by the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials and the upcoming Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) on raw materials, which aim to improve the mineral sector’s possibilities for sustainable growth, creating more jobs in Europe and securing the European industries’ raw material needs.


The first international research conference on Minerals in the Circular Economy brings together researchers from identified hot spots along the mineral value chain. A central purpose of the conference is to offer junior and senior researchers alike a possibility to present their recent research and to network beyond their usual sphere of research in solving problems related to sustainable use of mineral raw materials. The conference covers a significant research area on tools and methods that apply for the whole mineral value chain from the mine to the user and further to recycling.



Professor Jean-Claude Bünzli, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne

Professor Jean-Claude Bünzli, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne

Professor Bünzli will give a keynote presentation titled ”Rare earths: the vitamins of high technology”


Jean-Claude Bünzli is active in the field of inorganic chemistry and focuses on rare earths and their applications in biosciences. He has a broad expertise ranging from teaching to higher education management and research leadership. He earned a degree in chemical engineering in 1968 and a PhD in 1971 from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, EPFL.


After spending two years at the University of British Columbia as a teaching postdoctoral fellow (photoelectron spectroscopy) and one year at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (physical organic chemistry) he was appointed in 1974 as assistant-professor at the University of Lausanne. He launched a research program on the coordination and spectroscopic properties of f-elements and was promoted as a full professor of inorganic and analytical chemistry in 1980.

In 2001 he transferred to EPFL where he founded the Laboratory of Lanthanide Supramolecular Chemistry.


During 2009-2013 he additionally acted as World Class University professor at Korea University (South Korea) at the WCU Center for Next Generation Photovoltaic Devices. Trained as a physical inorganic chemist, his present research interests deal with various aspects of luminescent lanthanide coordination and supramolecular compounds. He is developing luminescent bioprobes and bioconjugates for the detection of cancerous cells with time-resolved microscopy as well as luminescent materials for various photonic applications, including solar energy conversion.

He has published more than 350 papers, has given 227 invited lectures and presented 260 contributed communications. He has collected more than 15000 citations (h factor = 60).

Since 1998, he is a corresponding member of the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters.
He is acting as the senior editor of the Handbook on the Physics and Chemistry of Rare Earths. In 1989, he founded the European Rare Earths and Actinide Society which coordinates international conferences in the field (cf. http://ereswww.epfl.ch) and for which he is presently acting as president.


Dr Karel Van Acker, KU Leuven

Dr Karel Van Acker, KU Leuven

Karel Van Acker is senior lecturer in sustainable materials and processes, coordinator of the KU Leuven Materials Research Centre and Promotor-Coordinator of the policy research centre Sustainable Materials Management. He chairs the Flemish Transition Network on Sustainable Materials Management and is involved in numerous projects on sustainability assessments of material life cycles, ranging from CFRP to biobased plastics, and on urban mining and the valorisation of residues. He graduated as M.Sc. in materials engineering and obtained a PhD degree in materials science, both from KU Leuven. After his PhD (1996), he worked during several years in industry as manager of a materials and mechanical testing laboratory and at the Flemish Institute for Technological Research. He joined KU Leuven at the end of 2005.

Professor Pekka Nurmi, Geological Survey of Finland

Professor Pekka Nurmi, Geological Survey of Finland

Professor Pekka A. Nurmi graduated and gained his Ph.D. at the University of Helsinki. He has a long career at the Geological Survey of Finland, and is currently the Research Director of GTK. Nurmi has been actively involved in developing RDI programmes, research co-operation and projects in Finland and internationally, and in promoting Finland's mineral opportunities for the mining industry. Prof. Nurmi has published some 90 papers mainly on economic geology. In 2010 Nurmi lead the expert group preparing Finland's minerals strategy, and he is one of the developers of Finland's Green Mining concept. Nurmi is a high level group member of the European Technology Platform on Sustainable Mineral Resources. He is also a Steering Group member of Finnish government’s action plan for sustainable extractive industry, and the Chairman of the Finnish Minerals Cluster. Nurmi has been awarded on research which led to the discovery of the Orivesi gold mine, and as an editor of the Finnish science book of the year.


Professor Kari Heiskanen, Aalto University

Professor Kari Heiskanen, Aalto University

D.Sc. (Tech) Kari Heiskanen is professor of Recycling Technology. His main subject is the modelling and dynamics of recycling systems. He finished his doctoral work ”On the estimation of system parameters in mathematical simulation of batch grinding” in 1979 in Helsinki University of Technology. He has published over 280 scientific and technical articles. He is a co-author of a recent Elsevier book “The Metric of Material and Metal Ecology” (2005) together with researchers from University of Melbourne and TU Delft. Heiskanen´s laboratory is producing annually 3-5 refereed articles and 4-6 conference papers. The research work in his group is often done with cooperation with the industry, both on national and international levels.



Mineral resources and sustainable mining

Recycling and recovery of valuable raw materials

Material design and substitution of critical raw materials

Innovation and policy in the mineral economy


VTT GTK Aalto Oulu