Mineral Resources

       

The European Union (EU) aims to place Europe at the forefront of the raw materials sectors and mitigate related negative environmental and social impacts. Additionally, it aims to reduce the import dependency on raw materials that are considered critical to Europe’s industries by improving supply access conditions from EU and other sources and promoting resource efficiency, including recycling, and alternatives in supply through the urban mine and substitution while promoting the concept of a circular economy. 

The European Commission’s Strategic Implementation Plan for European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials (SIP EIP RM) highlights the need for establishing and permanently updating a common and interoperable EU Geological Knowledge Base, including Minerals Intelligence Information. Such a knowledge base will allow a European exploration effort for mineral resources as well as effective policy- and decision-making related to both the surface and the subsurface. In this respect, mineral resource information, data sharing and networking by the European Geological Surveys are essential.

The EGS Mineral Resources Expert Group (MREG) is actively involved in contributing to policy- and strategy-making processes aiming to identify, characterize and safeguard a sustainable resource potential, notably on critical and strategic raw materials, through research, development and innovation.         

The MREG mission is to provide the best available mineral expertise and information based on the combined knowledge of member Geological Surveys, for policy, communication, value chain creation, public awareness and education purposes at European level, focusing mainly on strengthening the position of the European minerals industry towards resource sustainability and competitive growth. To stimulate economic growth and minimising the societal, environmental and political values and developments that place increasing pressure on the availability and exploitation of geological resources.

EGS MREG aims to become the leading partner within a European Raw Materials Knowledge Base and Information Network or other forms of cooperation that will be providing innovative tools and expertise to support a secure and sustainable minerals supply for Europe. Mineral information provided by the EGS MREG is based on globally comparable, maintained, standards of excellence for research and development.

The MREG Vision is carried out collaboratively with other organizations that have mineral intelligence capacities and expertise and with consumers of that information and other potential stakeholders.   

An essential number of EU Flagship projects, with EGS and/or National Geological Surveys’ (NGS) participation, in partnership, leading roles or other type of representation, have successfully been carried out, such as AEGOS, SARMa, ProMine, EuroGeoSource, EO-MINERS, Polinares, ERA-MIN, EURare, SNAP SEE, COBALT, Minerals4EU and ProSUM.

Integrate innovation and value creation in combination with environmentally sound and resource-efficient exploitation.

 

 

On mineral resources

It has been said that “if you can’t grow it, you have to mine it,” meaning that anything we can’t grow we have to extract from Earth in one way or another. Many do not always realize that we live in a mineral-based world. Indeed, virtually everything we use every day is made from resources from Earth.

Raw materials provide us with energy, the infrastructures to go from A to B, the buildings we live and work in, the vehicles we use for transportation, the technological platforms and an essential number of other significant daily uses. For example, minerals also form the basic raw materials for plastic and pharmaceutical products, for cosmetics, food, paper, paint, fuels, glassware and furniture. All in all, the minerals surround us.   

Each European, during the 70 years of his or her lifetime, uses on average 460 tons of sand and gravel, 166 tons of oil, 39 tons of steel, 1 ton of copper and several other more or less rare minerals and metals. A staggering demand for raw materials requires an ever-increasing effort to locate new resources in ever more difficult and remote areas and environments. Modern exploitation of these raw materials ensures minimal damage to the environment in terms of landscape, waste deposition, groundwater pollution and dust, in Europe and in the rest of the world.

EU faces a number of major societal and economic growth challenges including the access of critical and strategic raw materials from primary and secondary sources as well as the creation of relevant jobs, skills and technological competencies. At the same time, the need for mineral resources continues to rise because of an ever-increasing global population and a growing demand from developing countries and emerging economies (BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). Addressing these challenges requires that the appropriate exploration efforts, technologies, innovation, processes and products are in place, along with adequate policies to implement and stimulate the required changes.