Do not waste your waste

Do not waste your waste” was our slogan in the “Zero Waste Management Dubrovnik International ESEE Mining School” of November 2017. The school was organized by University of Zagreb Faculty of Mining, Geology and Petroleum Engineering Department and supported by EIT Raw Materials. There was a huge participation of 39 researchers coming from all over Europe (Austria, Finland, Croatia, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia and Ukraine). Lecturers came from the University of Zagreb, Montanuniversität Leoben, and Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute, and other speakers were associated with the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), DG Environment, the Industrial Minerals Association – Europe (IMA Europe), and the Croatian Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts. A highly diverse and high level group turned this event into a great success.

At the beginning of the school, we were given five different case studies of mines facing issues about how to extract valuable/hazardous metals from tailings, disposal wastes, reclamation of metallurgical landfill. Every student chose a group according to their interest and discussed how to find the best way for recycling the materials. At the end of the school, we had to pitch-present our ideas on how we propose to recycle/reuse of the tailings and make a profit out of it. I was involved the case about extraction of metals and critical raw materials from old tailing and heaps. It was a quite encouraging case, since my PhD is related to extract metals from process tailings. In the below picture, you can see how my group was concentrated to find out the best way do not waste our waste. 😊

Students are brainstorming

Brainstorming on how to find the best way to recycle materials in our case study.

During the school, we had 12 lectures related to circular economy, life cycle assessment tools, recycling, waste treatment systems, tailings disposal. Industrial partners presented examples of implementation of zero-waste technologies and best practices in Slovenia and Croatia: STONEX d.o.o., TERMIT d.d., CEMEX Hrvatska d.d. and Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute. From these inspiring sessions, I learned many things, of which I will briefly comment on a few below:

In the EU-28 countries 2.6 billion tonnes of waste were produced in 2014. This waste was produced from construction (33.5%), mining (29.8%), manufacturing (9.8%), households (8.1%), energy (3.7%), waste and water services (8.8%) and services (3.8%). Only 36% of waste was recycled, 48% was landfilled, 10% backfilled and 6% incinerated.

Circular economy plays a significant role to deal with this huge amount of waste. We must to understand the meaning and importance of ‘circular economy’, a concept of which by now about 115 definitions have been formulated. One of the definitions of circular economy is “a continuous positive development cycle that preserves and enhances natural capital, optimizes resource yields, and minimizes system risks by managing finite stocks and renewable flows”. And circular economy has close loops which starts from raw materials to design, production and remanufacturing, distribution, consumption, and recycling and continuously circulate (1).

Circular economy chart [1]

Circular economy chart [1]

After all the hard work, the summer school paid also attention to stimulate the group dynamics. While networking with the companies, we were tasting delicious foods, wines, and Pelin (a liquor) of Dubrovnik. Also, we explored the gorgeous city of Dubrovnik which hosted one of the best TV Series (Game of Thrones). The Croatians are very hospitable and lovely people. I look forward to visiting them again soon 😊

Group picture where Game of Thrones was filmed

Group picture where Game of Thrones was filmed

Here is the further program of DIM ESEE school. Do not miss it!

  • DIM ESEE School 2018- Deep Intelligent mining (Dubrovnik (Inter-University Centre) from 15th to 20th of October)
  • DIM ESEE School 2019- Small Mining Sites (Dubrovnik (Inter-University Centre) from 14th to 19th of October)
  • DIM ESEE School 2020- Recycling (Dubrovnik (Inter-University Centre) from 12th to 17th of October)

Link for the events:



  • Calleja, I., “Circular economy”, EIT Raw Materials, International ESEE Mining School, Dubrovnik, 20th of November 2017.

About The Author

ESR4, Pelin Altinkaya, graduated as mining engineering from Karadeniz Technical University, Trabzon, Turkey in 2012. She did master studies on Hydrometallurgy about alternative processes to cyanide leaching. During her master, she worked as researcher in a project called “Silver recovery by thiosulphate and ultra-fine grinding from refractory ores and plant tailings”. After the project was completed, in 2016-spring semester, she went for Erasmus+ exchange program to Montanuniversität, Leoben, Austria. In 2016 winter semester she graduated with Master Degree. Currently, she is working as a Researcher at Outotec Research Center in Finland and at the same time pursuing her PhD studies at Aalto University, Finland. Her research topic is hydrometallurgical process for recovery the critical and valuable metal recovery from complex impure process solution. If you are interested on her research topic and you wish to learn more about it, please don’t hesitate to take contact with her at:

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