Project duration: 1 January 2019 – 31 January 2021


In the pyrometallurgical copper smelting process the main product is copper, but there are other products generated in consequence of the extraction of the ore, this is the case of the Iron Silicates (commonly called copper slags) which are the largest co-product generated during the smelting and converting processes of the pyrometallurgical route: for every ton of copper production about 2.2 ton of copper slag is generated. The European copper sector generates approximately 5 million tons of iron silicates in the pyrometallurgical route in the EU, containing valuable metals and other compounds.  Traditionally, copper slags were considered as undesirable waste materials that had to be discarded at an additional cost. However, it can be used in several applications in the construction sector.

The solution (technology)

The objective of WhISPER is to substitute the actual technology for the granulation of the iron silicate by new technology in the copper sector which is more sustainable, from the environmental and from the economic point of view. Thanks to the atomization technology, water consumption will be drastically reduced, and heat will be recovered in the granulation process of the copper slags, so operational costs will decrease significantly and will make the process greener. The second benefit of the technology is that the quality of the copper slag is expected to improve, and so the product will have an added value. The new applications of the iron silicate will be studied in the project.


  • Atlantic Copper S.L.U., Spain (Lead Partner)
  • Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium
  • ResourceFull BVBA, Belgium
  • Rheinisch-Westfaelische Technische Hochschule Aachen, RWTH Aachen, Germany
  • Université de Bordeaux, France
  • Zavod za gradbenistvo Slovenije, ZAG (Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute), Slovenia