– 11:00 / 17 October 2023
RETHINKING MINING IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN TO MEET THE METALS AND MATERIALS DEMAND
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 Europe's true mineral potential is still not fully understood due to under-exploration, outdated geological surveys, and lack of investment in mining technology.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.