PROMISE for a sustainable future in mining through Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters

Experiences Higher education Erasmus+ Erasmus+ for higher education Internationalisation Education development Sustainable development
The University of Oulu has successfully launched the Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Programme in Sustainable Mineral and Metal Processing Engineering (EMJM-PROMISE). Collaborating with esteemed international partners from academia, research, and industry, PROMISE is dedicated to preparing upcoming professionals in eco-friendly mineral processing techniques. Explore the insights of the Finnish programme coordinator!
Kuva opiskelijoista Kittilän kaivoksen edustalla.
Students of EMJM-PROMISE exploring the processing plant at Kittilä mine during a technical visit. The Finnish mine is operated by Agnico Eagle and is the largest gold mine in Europe.

Within the European Union, there is an acknowledged requirement for clean energy technologies that rely on critical minerals such as copper, lithium, cobalt, nickel, and rare earth elements. In response, Dr. Maria Sinche Gonzalez, the coordinator of PROMISE, recognized the urgency of creating a dedicated academic programme to foster experts in sustainable mineral and metal processing engineering. 

The submission of a proposal during the EMJM 2021 call resulted in PROMISE securing funding as the sole project featuring a Finnish coordinator.

Industry insights as cornerstones of PROMISE programme modules

As outlined by the Finnish coordinator, the PROMISE programme modules were strategically planned to cultivate practical skills that align with the aspirations of stakeholders.

"In designing PROMISE, we conducted a stakeholder survey to determine the desired skills for mineral processing engineers. Based on responses from 23 companies, we actively incorporated their expectations into the programme modules, emphasising practical skills such as plan optimisation, modeling and simulation, automation and sensor development, efficient resource utilisation (water and energy) and recycling techniques,” explains Dr. Sinche Gonzalez.

“Moreover, critical thinking, analytical reasoning, creativity, and interpersonal skills are emphasized. These proficiencies empower students to tackle complex challenges in a collaborative manner within the mineral and metal processing engineering field”, she adds.

Devoted to promoting women's presence in the mining field

Aligned with the Erasmus+ programme priority on promoting inclusion and diversity, PROMISE’s student selection process actively nurtures intercultural diversity while also effectively working to narrow the gender gap.

“In the second programme intake, we achieved a commendable 50 percent ratio between male and female accepted students. We are committed to improving the participation of women in the mining field,” asserts Dr. Sinche Gonzalez. 


Student and intake statistics of EMJM-PROMISE.
Student and admission statistics of EMJM-PROMISE. Infographic: Maria Sinche Gonzalez.

Diverse programme partners enhance students’ understanding and networks 

Dr. Sinche Gonzalez underscores that PROMISE's strength in the EMJM application round was fortified through proactive efforts to engage partners in related fields. This was complemented by a purposeful emphasis on diverse partner selection spanning various countries and domains of expertise.

PROMISE is conducted in collaboration with Montauniversität Leoben (Austria), University of Zagreb (Croatia), and Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria-Chile (Chile). Furthermore, PROMISE forges connections with 41 Associated Partners, including 22 mining companies, 4 recycling companies, 4 research centres, 6 mining suppliers, and 3 universities. 

The wide spectrum of partners, each distinguished by their specialized expertise, enrich students' comprehension of the mineral processing value chain. This spans the entirety of stages, from the initial extraction of raw materials to the final delivery of products to customers.

Programme alliances also provide students with invaluable hands-on experience and networking opportunities.

"Students can engage in internships and collaborate on their theses with potential employers, fostering enhanced career prospects after completing the PROMISE programme", Dr. Sinche Gonzalez elaborates.

Envisioning a greener future for the mining industry

PROMISE, through its dedication to nurture professionals in sustainable mineral and metal processing engineering, paves the way for a sustainable future in the mining industry. This imperative is driven by the need to address pressing global challenges of resource scarcity, environmental degradation, and climate change. 

With its emphasis on practical skill development, stakeholder collaboration, and a commitment to inclusion and diversity, PROMISE equips students with the necessary tools to tackle these challenges head-on, promoting responsible and ethical mineral separation practices that safeguard the environment and support the transition to a more sustainable world.


Writer: Sion Yang