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Aluminium is Now Critical – Enabling UNFC-Compliant Classification for a German Aluminium Scrap Recovery Project

The United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) is an assessment tool for mineral resource endowments, originally developed for side-projects concerning geogenic resources, such as mines. Given the integration of UNFC into the Critical Raw Material Act, it is crucial to develop a standardized classification method for secondary raw materials. However, the current framework lacks concrete guidance and primarily relies on mining sector definitions. This leads to the inconsistent use of various factors and methods in case studies, resulting in diminished comparability. To understand the requirements and challenges of the application on secondary raw material projects and address the recent assessment of aluminium as critical, a pioneering case study is conducted on a novel aluminium sorting plant using laser-induced-breakdown-spectroscopy to enable alloy specific sorting of old scrap.

The UNFC assessment bases on three criteria: "Environmental-Socio-Economic Viability," "Technical Feasibility," and "Degree of Confidence in the Estimate”. In this study the criteria are evaluated with newly developed and existing factors such as quantity, quality, supply continuity, technology, infrastructure, and socio-economic, legal and environmental aspects, using assessment methods like technology readiness level and material flow analysis. This results in a concrete guidance covering data demand, data sources and assessment tools.

The study's results will highlight the distinct requirements that differ from those of the mining sector and contribute to the development of a modified methodology. These advancements aim to enhance the applicability of UNFC, enabling comprehensive evaluations of different types of resources and projects and promoting informed decision-making towards a circular economy.


Marina von Vietinghoff-Scheel1, Nathalie Korf1, Thorsten Greb2, Vera Susanne Rotter1
1Technische Universität Berlin, Chair of Circular Economy and Recycling Technology, Berlin, Germany; 2ALBA Europe Holding plc & Co. KG, Berlin, Germany
GeoBerlin 2023