Press release – November 2020
On 16 November 2020, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) gathered in a virtual Coffee with Geoscience event to exchange with a panel of geoscience experts on the importance of mineral raw materials for the achievement of the EU’s Green Deal goals. The event was hosted by the Portuguese MEPs Carlos Zorrinho (S&D Group) and Maria da Graça Carvalho (EPP Group), both Members of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. The dialogue focused on the social, economic and political aspects that must be addressed to ensure reliable, secure and sustainable access to mineral raw materials for Europe’s industry.
As stated in the EU’s Green Deal, access to mineral raw materials plays a strategic role to achieve Europe’s ambitious climate policy. This message has been reinforced in the European Commission’s recent Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials and a related foresight study which pointed out the importance of mineral resources to succeed both the energy and digital transitions.
Geoscience expert Murray Hitzman (Managing Director of iCRAG) stressed the critical need for primary mined metals to achieve the 2050 climate goals, with recycling being a necessary but currently insufficient part of the solution. Although Europe has the geological potential to extract strategic metals, including cobalt, lithium and Rare Earth Elements (REE), the continent is currently highly import-dependent. In this regard, Marko Komac, the President of the European Federation of Geologists (EFG), warned against the rising threat of resource nationalism, a card increasingly played by several states across the world. Marko Komac especially called upon EU policymakers to address the lack of harmonised policy and legislation, which could facilitate the access to resources required to achieve the EU’s common climate goals. Sarah Gordon, Managing Director of Satarla, underlined that responsible mining in Europe could indeed reduce the environmental footprint of mineral production and processing and increase sustainability. She highlighted the mining industry’s ongoing transformation where new technologies reduce the environmental impact and technical guidelines progressively shape more responsible practices. Gordon stressed Europe’s leading role in this regard and also pointed out recent changes in the financing sector, encouraging investors to focus on responsible mining and manufacturing. She underlined Europe’s potential to lead sustainable production and processing, ensuring thus resilient and responsible supply chains and creating new job opportunities across the continent. These factors will also be key to establishing a dialogue with citizens, building trust and empowering them to play a leading role in this “time of change”.
The panellists, in conclusion, recognised the important role of the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, which positions Europe as the world leader in Research and Innovation and enables development of cutting-edge technologies which reduce the societal and environmental impact of mining and foster the industry’s transition towards the 21st century.
Coffee with geoscience has been organised by the International Raw Materials Observatory in collaboration with the European Federation of Geologists (EFG) and the American Geosciences Institute (AGI).