“Recycling the strongest metals” is the title of the animated TARANTULA project presentation movie. Researchers Seftel Elena Mihaela (VITO) and Martina Orefice (KU Leuven) explain the concept of the TARANTULA project, which aims at the recovery of tungsten, niobium and tantalum occurring as by-products in mining and processing waste streams.

Referring to the Greek mythological figure of Tantalus, the video explains why the so-called refractory (strong) metals –  tantalum, tungsten and niobium – are crucial for Europe’s industry, where these elements are currently mined and why this import dependence makes the European economy vulnerable.

To reduce this dependency, the TARANTULA project aims to recycle these elements from electronic scrap, industrial waste and mining residues. In order to do so, the consortium is developing nine innovative and eco-friendly methods with higher recycling efficiencies.

TARANTULA objectives

TARANTULA’s overarching objective is to develop a toolkit of novel, efficient and flexible metallurgical technologies with high selectivity and recovery rates with respect to W, Nb and Ta, which are also considered as Critical Raw Materials. Their criticality was  reconfirmed on September 3, 2020, by the European Commission's updated list of Critical Raw Materials (EC, COM(2020) 474), see Figure below).

As such, the project will promote (i) sustainable annual supply of secondary W at an amount equivalent to 50% of current EU W primary production, (ii) exploitation of Ta content equivalent to at least 120% of EU annual demand (iii) exploitation of Nb content equivalent to at least 5% of EU annual demand.

The TARANTULA project is very timely as its ground-breaking research can unlock a huge potential for the resource recovery from residues and waste streams, and as such push for another necessary step towards a circular economy.

TARANTULA unites an interdisciplinary consortium composed of various industrial partners, research institutes and universities (see https://h2020-tarantula.eu/partners/).


The video is intended as a teaser for a very wide (non-expert) audience and invites the viewer to learn more about the TARANTULA project and the different innovative and eco-friendly methods it will develop to recycle these critical elements.

The recording was conducted in June 2020 in the laboratories of VITO (Mol, Belgium) in compliance with the regulations of the Belgian government to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All demonstrations and experiments were carried out according to the best lab practices. The TARANTULA video was produced by Storyrunner production house.

Find out more about the TARANTULA project on https://h2020-tarantula.eu/

Figure: Fourth list of CRMs, as defined by the European Commission (EC (COM)2020) 474)


Special thanks to VITO and KU Leuven who supported the filming of the video. The TARANTULA project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program under Grant Agreement n° 821159 – https://h2020-tarantula.eu/