Minerals and metals for a modern and sustainable society

Mineral resources are the lifeblood of our modern society and the key to a more sustainable future. To face the challenge of increasing demand for raw materials combined with high import dependency, Europe has to take responsibility and address strategic issues such as criticality, global supply, resource & energy efficiency and economic development by boosting exploration and mining efforts, strengthening processing capabilities and creating smart and sustainable solutions to reduce emissions, waste and water & energy consumption.

UPCOMING LIGHTHOUSE EVENTS

Expert Forum: Digitalisation in the Raw Materials Sector
20-22 January 2020 in Leoben, Austria

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Position Paper

Pioneering smart innovation, stakeholder engagement and responsible investment in Europe’s future

The Sustainable Discovery and Supply Lighthouse’s vision is to boost innovation, social engagement and investment for Europe’s clean and green future.

Sustainable Discovery and Supply Lighthouse strategic goals are:

  • unlocking the potential for a renewed raw materials sector in Europe as a driver for domestic raw material value chains
  • building on Europe’s existing strengths in industry, research, innovation and infrastructure within and outside EIT RawMaterials diverse portfolio
  • further establishing trust, credibility and recognition through competency, positive engagement and by creating value for all stakeholders
  • providing clear advice for decision-makers and fostering innovation by creating, transferring and applying knowledge and driving the application of research outcomes through to stakeholder engagement
  • boosting responsible investments in the raw materials sector and invigorating the European start-up and junior company environment by fostering entrepreneurial talent
  • taking responsibility to reduce the footprint of the raw materials sector (waste-water-energy-emissions)

Sustainable Discovery and Supply Lighthouse thematic focus areas – a multifaceted approach

Sustainable Discovery and Supply Lighthouse addresses clearly defined aspects of current and future developments in the following areas:

Securing resources (geology)

Environment, legislation and society

Technology

Education

Economy

  • Securing resources (geology): Current geologic models for mineral deposits can be enhanced with more comprehensive and integrated datasets that allow for a more targeted exploration at depth and in remote locations. Smart and innovative data collection and management allow for better decision making which translates into a more efficient and sustainable industry. The re-evaluation of decommissioned mines and tailings represents further significant potential for the European raw materials sector.
  • Technology: Innovative technologies are required to further enhance mining and processing capabilities while reducing their environmental footprint, i.e., decreasing water and energy consumption and sustainable waste and emission management. Real-time geochemical and geophysical methods, advanced reconnaissance and exploration drilling, integration of increasingly complex multi-source datasets through machine learning, automation and remote operation will help to make smarter, more timely, cost-effective and accurate decisions—leading to new discoveries, unlocking the existing potential and building on existing strengths in industry, research and infrastructure. 
  • Environment, legislation and society: A complete raw materials value chain for minerals and metals make Europe attractive for a renewed exploration, mining and processing sector. In this context, the Lighthouse addresses the identified societal, ethical, environmental, technical, and economic aspects to develop raw materials into a major strength for Europe while aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. Trustworthy and transparent social engagement is key to emphasize the benefits of a strong raw materials sector in Europe with a Social License to Operate (SLO).
  • Education: Like many other industries, the raw materials sector is facing a wave of retirement, difficulty to attract young people, a mismatch between the education provided by the universities and the real needs of the industry and—with the transformation towards digitalization—the necessity to train the current workforce. This Lighthouse will support activities of the RawMaterials Academy: Wider Society Learning (WSL), Higher Education and Lifelong Learning (LLL).
  • Economy: This Lighthouse aims to boost responsible investments in the European raw materials sector as part of a strategic framework that is tailored to industry requirements and societal demands.

Impact of the Sustainable Discovery and Supply Lighthouse

The Sustainable Discovery and Supply Lighthouse will promote the benefits of a strong minerals and materials sector in modern society and the transition towards the green and circular economy.

The Sustainable Discovery and Supply Lighthouse aims to find innovative solutions for securing and processing strategic mineral resources in a sustainable and safe way and with a Social License to Operate (SLO).

This Lighthouse will foster activities that drive knowledge transfer, collaboration and responsible investments through industry engagement, as well as contribute to an improved decision making based on knowledge, data and advanced technologies. This will reduce import dependency and also significantly contribute to economic growth, specifically in regions where new exploration projects, mining operations and processing facilities can be developed or expanded.

The Sustainable Discovery and Supply Lighthouse will promote social engagement through education and networking with all stakeholders, incl. the wider public, playing a pivotal role in raising awareness and increasing acceptance of a renewed raw materials sector in Europe.

Sustainable Discovery and Supply Lighthouse strategic actions are:

  • Strengthen the role of EIT RawMaterials in relevant industrial alliances.
  • Influence policymaking at European and national levels to support innovation actions.
  • Support policymakers in improving regulations (e.g., exploration and extraction permitting, waste directives, and in sourcing raw materials sustainably from third countries).
  • Leverage large investment funding for (pilot) industrial plants through public and private investors.
  • Business creation – facilitation of industrial alliances through events and bilateral meetings, start-up support, a compilation of feasibility studies linked to upscaling projects.
  • Create an advisory board to support EIT RawMaterials in discussion groups, policy groups, working groups, etc. The Lighthouse Advisory Board will help to keep the Lighthouse strategically aligned for the future.