Remains of lead mining. Ceredigion, Wales


In situ recovery of resources from waste repositories

Cardiff University, Warwick University & the University of the West of England

The objective of ‘INSPIRE’ is to understand and manipulate the biogeochemistry of waste within waste repositories (e.g. landfills, industrial waste, municipal solid waste, metallurgical and mining waste) to recover valuable resources by leaching and other treatments whilst the material lies in situ.  This avoids the need to actively extract the material and thereby minimises ecological and environmental impacts. Appropriate benchmarking will be developed for these recovery processes in terms of life-cycle (societal, economic, cultural and environmental impacts) and their impact on ecosystems services.

Specifically, INSPIRE seeks to:

  • Optimize the in situ recovery of ‘E-tech’ elements and Elements of Value (EoV) from waste repositories.
  • Increase the recovery of energy (from methane) and metals through biotechnologically enhanced lignocellulose degradation.
  • Develop Resource Recovery Models
  • Perform environmental systems modelling to understand the health and social impacts of recovering resources from geological waste storage

More information is available from the website: 


  • Crane & Sapsford (2018). Selective formation of copper nanoparticles from acid mine drainage using nanoscale zerovalent iron particles. Journal of Hazardous Materials. 347, 252-265. doi:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2017.12.014, Open Access.
  • Crane et al. (2017). Physicochemical composition of wastes and co-located environmental designations at legacy mine sites in the south west of England and Wales: Implications for their resource potential. Resources, Conservation and Recycling. 123, 117-134. doi:10.1016/j.resconrec.2016.08.009; Open Access.
  • Sapsford et al. (2017). In Situ Resource Recovery from Waste Repositories: Exploring the Potential for Mobilization and Capture of Metals from Anthropogenic Ores. Journal of Sustainable Metallurgy. 3, (2), 375–39. doi:1–18. doi:10.1007/s40831-016-0102-4, Open Access.
  • Rashid, et al. (2017) Delignification and enhanced gas release from soil containing lignocellulose by treatment with bacterial lignin degraders. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 123, (1), 159–171. doi: 10.1111/jam.13470; Open Access from 16 Jun 2018.

Further project outputs can be accessed via the INSPIRE publications webpage.