May 25th and 26th REMIX project took part in the online workshop organised by REMIX sister project MIREU. Topic for the 2 days event was Funding of tomorrow’s raw materials sector.  

The first day focused on introducing a number of strategies and provided best practices to strategically develop a region´s mining and metallurgy sector. REMIX action plans were presented as best practices on how to influence the policy instruments directing the funding in regions. Although all of the REMIX action plans are good, due to the limited time, only four action plans were introduced.  

The full presentation by REMIX on the first day can be viewed HERE 

MIREU project will produce their own conclusions from the 2 days, but some of our take-aways from the workshop’s first day were that: 

  • The world is our oyster but it up to us how we utilise what is available. In other words there are plenty of funding instruments available for the raw materials sector, especially in R&D&I but the key to making the best use of them is good regional cooperation, communication and a well thought of strategic approach to interregional cooperation and utilisation of EU funding. 
  • Regions with common interests should formulate partnerships to take matters forward at the EU level. 
  • The difference between active regions and not so active regions is most of often in the people that work in the key organisations. Stakeholders and their organisations must understand that it is their own responsibility to take care of their best interests when it comes to policymaking in the regions and even at the EU level. Getting involved in local, regional and European level networks, working groups and projects is the key in making a difference.  

On the second day of the workshop the focus was on how to stimulate mining for the benefit of regions.  

Starting from the first panelist Chris Broadbent, from Wardell Armstrong International (London, UK) it was brought up how the Covid-19 crisis has in fact shown that Europe cannot continue to export raw materials from the distant parts of the earth. According to all of the panelists we cannot rely anymore on global supply chains, but instead we must start thinking what can be found here and how it can be exploited here. Covid-19 effect on supply chains in all industries can most definitely create new opportunities also for the mining sector

The mining sector has a key role in the clean growth of Europe. As Jeremy Wrathall, from Cornish Lithium (Cornwall, UK) stated:  

“Time of funding the fossil fuels has come to an end and especially the Covid-19 crisis has showed the necessity to start investing on raw material extraction in EU to shorten the supply chains. This is a must to reach the carbon emission goals of the EU by 2050.” 

Mr. Wrathall continued: 

There is an estimated 50 billion euro market for electric car batteries in Europe alone. This cannot be ignored. We need primary extractive industry and re-examining of the geological potential to mine different materials needed within EU. Lithium is one of the key materials to reach the low carbon economy. Recycling is not enough, new materials must be extracted from the ground beneath our feet.” 

Indeed, people are more and more interested in implications of supply chains and this is changing the world.  The investors are no different. They have become more aware of the challenges in investing to mining projects in Africa, Asia and South America according to Jeremy Wrathall. The massive carbon footprint it takes to export the materials to thousands and thousands of kilometres away and how the mining in those areas is not very sustainable.  

However, Europe has work to do. First of all in changing the perception of mining from and old fashioned profession to exciting, high technology industry to get young people to sign up to get degrees in geology and mining.  Also, more people with processing skills are needed or otherwise EU will have huge problem with lack of skills.  Collaboration across regions is very welcome in this regards. “Furthermore, innovative funding needs to be developed to enable more exploration in Europe” concluded Chris Broadbent from Armstrong International.  

As some final remarks, the REMIX advisory partner Dr. Wolfgang Reimer from GKZ made the following conclusions from the two days: 

  • There is a strong impact by environmentalists that hinders exploration and mining, controverse discussion about SLO and its applicability in EU27 
  • There is also a lack of raw material awareness by European society 
  • At global scale European deposits are not at all competitive compared to overseas investments 
  • Mining is for money 
  • Break-away of closed value chains (downstream operations, such as smelting, production) endangers Europe 
  • Raising questions about raw materials has to become a subject of public service by EU governments 
  • Policy making is divers and not reliable in terms of providing long-term stable investment conditions