On 5 April 2022, a Universidad Politécnica de Madrid-hosted conference attended by European Commission policymakers, representatives from the Spanish Government, EIT RawMaterials and leading mining actors in Spain, was convened to highlight the importance of increasing the national production capacities of raw materials in Spain.

The conference demonstrated the wide commitment of all parties to support the responsible extraction of primary raw materials within Europe, with a focus on Spain. With Europe lacking enough secondary raw materials to meet the demand of the European industry, primary extraction is of great urgency and an opportunity for significant economic development in exploration and mining as well as for a robust circular economy.

CEO of EIT RawMaterials and keynote presenter, Bernd Schäfer, spoke optimistically about the immense economic advantages for Spain but warned that the creation of a resilient industrial ecosystem in Europe was urgent for meeting the Green Deal goals.

There is no Green Deal without a sufficient supply of critical raw materials. Currently, we have significant mineral reserves in Europe, but very little mining takes place. For example, 20% of Europe’s rare earth magnet needs could be sourced from the EU by 2030 – fifteen times more than current supply. The actual capacity is much higher.

Bernd Schäfer, CEO, Managing Director at EIT RawMaterials

Europe lacks domestic production of raw materials, but Schäfer pointed out that by building supply chains from mining to the finished product and diversifying strategic raw materials partnerships within Europe’s member states, Europe’s single market advantage, this situation can be turned around.

We have the ability to set up multi-country value chains giving us access to a market of 450 million consumers. For example, rare earths mined in Spain could be processed in Estonia, manufactured into magnets in Austria, to be used in cars built in France or Germany. We welcome cooperation too of course with nations beyond our borders.

Bernd Schäfer, CEO, Managing Director at EIT RawMaterials

This comes at a time of a global pandemic and unprecedented geopolitical issues that has left Europe more vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and shortages.

Conference guest participants included Sara Agesen Munoz, Spanish State Secretary of Energy, Ministry of Ecological Transition, and Raül Blanco, Secretary of Industries and SMEs, Ministry of Industry, as well as representative of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and many others. It also featured the participation of Pedro Soler Alcántara, CEO of Cobre Las Cruces, and Carlos Rich, Strategy Director of Atlantic Copper, who presented two cases of responsible mining and metallurgy developed in Andalusia.

The event was hosted by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM).