The landscape of mineral and metal supply and demand is rapidly changing as European countries transition towards a more sustainable and digital future. As geopolitical tensions keep rising, Europe’s diversification strategy shifts towards replacing trade partners and developing its own mineral and metals potential. Europe’s true mineral potential is still not fully understood due to under-exploration, outdated geological surveys, and lack of investment in mining technology. New exploration technologies and strategies can potentially unlock new reserves. Mining these resources in a sustainable way is a major challenge. Mining operations can have significant environmental impacts, including habitat destruction, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. As such, it is vital that these operations are carried out responsibly, with robust environmental protections in place. Additionally, developing these resources will require substantial investment in infrastructure, skills, and technology. This includes not only the mining operations but also the downstream industries needed to process and refine these minerals.
Opportunities in Eastern, Central and wider Europe to develop the supply of metals and minerals to EU’s green energy transition.
- Lithium: This metal is a key component in rechargeable batteries, which are essential for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage. Countries such as the Czech Republic have significant lithium reserves, which could supply a substantial part of the EU’s demand.
- Copper and Silver: These metals are essential for wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles due to their electrical conductivity. Poland is one of the world’s leading producers of silver, and both Poland and Bulgaria have substantial copper mining industries.
- Rare Earth Elements (REEs): REEs are vital for a wide range of green technologies, including wind turbines, electric vehicles, and energy-efficient lighting. While China currently dominates global REE production, there are significant reserves in countries like Poland, which could potentially be developed to provide a more secure supply.
- Nickel and Cobalt: These metals are essential for the production of lithium-ion batteries. Finland, Poland, and the Balkan countries have significant nickel and cobalt reserves.
Central and Eastern Europe region looks to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and transition to more sustainable energy sources. Many countries in the region have set ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the share of renewable energy in their energy mix. This means that the coal mining industry in Central and Eastern Europe is facing significant challenges, as the demand for coal is expected to decrease in the coming years. This is particularly true for countries like Poland, where coal accounts for a large share of the energy mix. However, there are also opportunities for the coal mining industry to adapt to the changing energy landscape, such as by investing in carbon capture and storage technology, developing alternative uses for coal mining sites and infrastructure, and re-skilling and re-employing displaced coal workers. Additionally, the role of government and regulatory bodies in promoting sustainable mining practices and implementing energy transition policies will be crucial for the success of coal phase-out plans in the region.
- Navigating the energy transition in the Central and Eastern European mining industry.
- Support of the regions affected by the transition towards a climate-neutral economy.
- Effective financial assurance for mine closure and rehabilitation.
- The EU’s Just Transition Mechanism in Action.
- Poland’s role in the European Union’s energy transition and coal phase-out plans.
- Just transition toward climate neutral economy in five Polish regions.
- Post-mining land use and economic development: Opportunities and challenges.
- Support of local economic diversification.
- Mine closure planning and best practices for environmental rehabilitation.
- Managing the social impacts of mine closure and transitioning communities.
- Monitoring and mitigating the long-term environmental impacts of mining.
- Reclaiming and restoring ecosystems following mining operations.
- Integrating mine closure considerations into the mining project development process.
- Effective stakeholder engagement in post-mining land use planning and decision-making.
- New technologies for monitoring and remediating mining-impacted areas.
- Mining electrification with Battery Powered Equipment and Transportation.
- Strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the coal mining sector.
- Exploring the potential of carbon capture and storage.
- Re-skilling and re-employing displaced coal workers.
- Exploring alternative uses for coal mining sites and infrastructure.
- Case studies of successful mine closure and post-mining land use projects.
To achieve green and digital transitions, Europe must significantly increase and diversify its critical raw materials supply, strengthen circularity and support research and innovation. In the context of the overarching objectives of the European Critical Raw Materials Act, European Green Deal and the REPowerEU will help to remove regulatory barriers and accelerate domestic development and sustainable supplies of battery materials such as nickel, cobalt, lithium, and graphite for ensuring rapid energy and mobility transitions. Increasing domestic capacity and investments across the battery value chain including exploration, mining, and refining will be essential. This initiative will aim to reinforce EU monitoring capacities and strengthen both the EU value chain – through the identification of mineral resources and raw materials projects in the EU’s strategic interest, with strong environmental protection – and EU external policies on CRMs.
- Why Europe must embrace the Return of Raw Materials
- Addressing the challenges of critical raw material supply chain in Europe.
- Critical Raw Materials Act to strengthen the domestic rare earth permanent magnets value chain
- The emergence of a world-leading rare earth industry in Europe.
- Exploring opportunities for critical raw material production and processing in Europe.
- Strategies for minimizing the environmental and social impacts of critical raw material extraction.
- Innovations in processing and recycling of critical raw materials.
- Exploring the potential of unconventional critical raw material sources.
- Opportunities for critical raw material substitution and substitution.
- Building critical raw material resilience through strategic stockpiling and diversification.
- Critical raw material policies and regulations in Central and Eastern Europe.
- International cooperation and trade in critical raw materials.
In recent years, Ukraine has been exploring the potential for a critical raw materials alliance with European markets to secure its supply of these materials and increase its economic growth. To achieve this, Ukraine is promoting cooperation and collaboration between its critical raw materials stakeholders and European partners, and creating a favourable policy and regulatory environment for this alliance. The country is also investing in new technologies and innovation for critical raw materials production and processing, addressing the challenges of critical raw materials supply chain management, and exploring opportunities for critical raw materials recycling and secondary recovery. The war with Russia prevents Ukraine to develop its critical materials potential and build sustainable supply to the international markets. Additionally, there is a need to address the environmental and social impacts of the extraction of critical raw materials. Despite these challenges, the potential for a critical raw materials alliance between Ukraine and European markets is significant. It can help Ukraine to increase its economic growth by providing European countries with a secure and sustainable source of these materials.
- Assessing the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on mining development opportunities in Ukraine.
- Strategies for overcoming the challenges of mining in a post-conflict environment in Ukraine.
- Rebuilding and modernising mining infrastructure in Ukraine post-Russia war.
- Exploring the potential for a critical raw materials alliance between Ukraine and European markets.
- Promoting transparency and responsible sourcing of critical raw materials in the alliance between Ukraine and European markets.
- Developing new technologies and innovation for critical raw materials production and processing in Ukraine.
- Investment opportunities in the critical raw materials sector in Ukraine.
The EU has recently unveiled its Net-Zero Industry Act and Critical Raw Materials Act as part of its Green Deal Industrial Plan, aimed at ensuring that the EU can compete with the US and China in making clean tech products and accessing raw materials. In line with this, the EU has set a target of producing at least 40% of the products it needs for “net-zero” technologies, such as solar power or fuel cells, by 2030. About €23 trillion of this investment would come from redirecting investments that would otherwise have funded carbon-intensive technologies. This amounts to roughly 25% of the annual GDP of the EU. The Mining and Metals industry would need to take decisive action to achieve the EU’s climate goals, and stakeholders would need to address several hurdles to accelerate the transition. To meet climate targets, the industry must develop and commercialise new low-CO2 technologies within the next 5-10 years.
- The role of the mining industry in achieving global net-zero emissions by 2050 and how to ensure its success in the energy transition.
- Challenges faced by the mining industry in achieving net-zero emissions and how to address them
- Strategies for increasing investment in clean technologies and decarbonising the mining sector
- Carbon reduction planning and how this is in the process of being linked to International Reporting codes (e.g. JORC etc) required in the future for Resource and Reserve statements.
- Opportunities for innovation in the mining industry to support the energy transition agenda
- Case studies of successful net-zero initiatives and their potential application to the mining industry
Central and Eastern Europe offer a variety of mineral exploration opportunities and developed best-in-class resource management practices. The region is rich in a wide range of minerals, including base metals, precious metals, and rare earth elements. Mineral exploration opportunities in Central and Eastern Europe can be developed through innovative exploration techniques such as geospatial technologies, digital mapping, 3D modelling, and Machine Learning. These technologies can help to identify new mineral deposits and improve the efficiency of exploration activities. Resource management best-in-class practices in Central and Eastern Europe include the use of sustainable mining practices, such as environmental impact assessments, community engagement programs and stakeholder consultation. These practices can help to minimize the environmental and social impacts of mining operations and promote transparency and good governance. Additionally, companies can improve the value of mineral resources through downstream processing and beneficiation. Collaboration and partnerships between mining companies, government and local communities can also help to promote mineral exploration and resource management in Central and Eastern Europe.
- Spotlight on underexplored mining opportunities in Eastern and Central Europe
- Maximising the value of mineral resources.
- Addressing the challenges of mineral rights management and permitting.
- Promoting sustainable mineral exploration practices.
- Exploring new frontiers: Innovations in Mineral exploration techniques.
- Opportunities for recycling and re-use of secondary raw materials.
- Strategies for downstream processing and beneficiation.
Best-in-class mining practices for managing resources of metals and minerals involve a combination of strategies and techniques to ensure sustainable extraction and use of these resources. These include the use of advanced technologies for exploration and extraction, and the adoption of circular economy principles for efficient and sustainable use of resources. Additionally, mining companies are also focused on minimising their environmental footprint through the use of green remediation techniques and the integration of renewable energy sources. The industry is also investing in advanced operations technology, managing environmental regulations and stakeholder engagement, and developing assets in remote locations.
- Innovation for Sustainable Mining and creating MissionZero-mines.
- Utilising advanced technology and automation to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact.
- The best examples of a safe and effective management program of tailings waste.
- Application of new technology and new equipment in mining with backfill.
- Investing in research and development to improve mine closure and rehabilitation.
- Prioritising sustainable resource management through recycling and reusing materials.
- Enhancing capital productivity to leverage technological advancements.
- Addressing social and environmental risks in mineral extraction and processing.
- Implementing circular economy principles to promote efficient resource management.
- Embracing cross-functional collaboration and data integration to drive innovation.
- Procurement Best Practices in the Mining Industry.
- Promoting transparency and non-discretionary procedures in mineral revenue management.
- Collaborating with local communities and stakeholders to promote inclusive and responsible mining practices.
Technology and digital transformation are playing an increasingly important role in the mining industry in Europe. Digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and automation are being used to increase efficiency and reduce costs in mining operations. The use of data-driven decision-making, geospatial technologies, and 3D modelling is also helping to improve mineral exploration and resource management. Additionally, advancements in the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain technology, and virtual and augmented reality are helping to improve supply chain traceability, mineral rights management, and mining operations. In order to fully leverage the potential of these technologies, companies are investing in digital infrastructure and training workers in digital skills. The use of these technologies can also help to mitigate the environmental and social impacts of mining operations and promote sustainability and transparency in the mining sector.
- Digital transformation in the mining sector: Leveraging technology for increased efficiency and cost savings.
- Data-driven decision making for mining operations.
- Big Data analytics for mineral exploration in Europe.
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in mining.
- Robotics and automation in mining.
- Virtual and Augmented Reality in mining operations.
- Internet of Things (IoT) in mining.
- Blockchain technology for supply chain traceability in mining.
- The potential of digital twin technology for mineral exploration and mining operations in Europe.
- Integrating geophysics, geochemistry and geology for mineral exploration in Europe.
- Exploring the potential of hyperspectral imaging for mineral exploration in Europe.
- Exploring the potential of blockchain technology for mineral rights management in Europe.
- Exploring the potential of digital twin technology for mineral exploration and mining operations in Europe.