ISMC’s director, Santiago Cuesta, actively participated in the events of the Raw Materials Week fourth edition, which took place between November 18 and 22 in Brussels. This annual event brings together the raw materials European community and is organised by the European Commission. In these four years, the event has become a unique occasion for all the key actors in the raw materials field to meet old partners and discover new ones. The numerous events and parallel sessions taking place at the Hôtel Le Plaza in Brussels allowed us to discuss and exchange knowledge and experiences on critical aspects of raw materials in the context of the European Union: from policies, regulatory framework and international cooperation to new projects, technologies, trends and innovation.
Of all the sessions in the programme, we focused on topics related to critical raw materials, new technology trends, innovation and other relevant meetings aimed at sharing project ideas for the next H2020 calls and outlining what will be the EU actions and funding programmes for the next decade. Here, we briefly summarise our main activities during the week.
On Monday 18, we attended the ‘3rd EU Critical Raw Materials Event’. Experts from DG GROW, US Geological Survey, Fraunhofer, EIT RawMaterials, Apple and more told us about how criticality of raw materials is essentially a dynamic concept that must adapt to the constant changes of industry, new markets and supply chains. The vulnerabilities of the European Union in this regard were analysed, focusing on the EU dependence on certain key elements that will enable the energy transition and the main research fields that will contribute to mitigate this dependence in the near future. Finally, the crucial role of the Circular Economy was highlighted, emphasizing the need to develop the technologies that will allow us the recovery of secondary raw materials through, for instance, ‘urban mining’. In this regard, it is urgent to join efforts to shape the next EU regulations and standards related to the recovery, recycling and reuse of secondary raw materials.
On Tuesday 19, we participated in the all-day event ‘Innovation, new technology trends and skills for raw materials.’ We could hear about the importance of digitalization and data integration throughout the entire mining value chain, new exploration and processing techniques and the need to train future professionals in the most advanced, cutting-edge technologies. In the brokerage session hold at the end of the day, our general director, Santiago Cuesta López, presented both ICAMCyL and ISMC projects’ ideas for the next Horizon 2020 February call. These ideas are mainly aimed at developing new mining pilots on European soil and continuing with the work of important H2020 projects that end next year, such as MIREU.
On Wednesday 20, the ‘7th Annual High-Level Conference of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on raw materials’ took place, focused this year on ‘Resource security for value chains.’ Moderated by members of DG GROW, the event was an excellent occasion to share critical aspects on the development of a European industry that promotes climate neutrality and circular economy, as well as to discuss the role of raw materials in the pursue of this goal and the importance of transparency and responsible sourcing in the supply chains.
In addition, the networking coffee breaks gave us time to mingle, share time with other experts and outline many of our next European projects. Among others, we could meet our partners in MIREU and TARANTULA, as well as we enjoy the interest shown by attendees in ISMC and ICAMCyL posters.
Thursday 24 was our last day at the Raw Materials Week. We attended the event ‘Raw Materials meeting societal needs’, co-organised by MIREU. In these sessions, special attention was given to the need to raise social awareness about the importance of raw materials for local and regional economies in the EU. MIREU was mentioned as a great achievement of the European mining and metallurgy regions cooperation, and the need for a competitive European mining industry, which can support a just transition to low carbon economies, was highlighted.
Summing up, we have come back full of new ideas, future partners and projects that promise to greatly contribute to the immediate future of the raw materials and mining sectors in the European Union. ISMC continues to be a decisive actor in these fields in Europe and we will continue to participate in the main projects, platforms and forums of interest. See you at the Raw Materials Week 2020!
Note: Images showed in this report are a mix of our own pictures and the great photographs provided by https://www.flickr.com/photos/eurmw2019/albums/