Monthly Archives: February 2020

XV International Congress on Energy and Mineral Resources

Date: October 28-30, 2020

Venue: Exhibition and Conference Centre in León (Spain)

El pasado mes de enero se confirmó que S. M. el Rey Felipe VI ha aceptado la Presidencia de Honor de este XV Congreso Internacional. Bajo el lema “Trabajando para la sociedad”, este XV Congreso pondrá de relevancia la importancia de la minería para la sociedad, el impacto positivo de las actividades extractivas en los sectores que facilitarán la transición hacia las energías verdes y los retos para el futuro en materia de energía y medioambiente, ingeniería, metalurgia y tratamiento de aguas.

A key event this year: XV International Congress on Energy and Mineral Resources

ISMC will actively participate in the XV International Congress on Energy and Mineral Resources to be held this year in León. The event is being organised by the Official College of Mining Engineers of the Centre of Spain (COIMCE) together with the High Council of Colleges of Mining Engineers. The event, which will take place between October 28 and 30, will bring together more than 400 professionals and 150 companies from the raw materials and mining sector, as well as students and technicians who will share common projects and interests.

Last January, it was confirmed that S. M. King Felipe VI has accepted the Honorary Presidency of this XV International Congress. Under the motto “Working for society”, this XV Congress will highlight the importance of raw materials for all societies, the positive impact that the extractive industry will have for enabling the energy transition and the future challenges in terms of energy and the environment, engineering, metallurgy and water treatment, among many others.

Visit the congress website >

Europe seeks new opportunities for sustainable mining projects

As political tensions grow globally, the concern of EU policymakers about the supply of certain raw materials essential for the European industry also increases. This concern has led to a renewed interest in starting new mining projects in European territory.

This is not an easy goal from the point of view of the social license to operate, that is, the acceptance of all social actors, specifically local communities, to carry out mining projects in their territories. Mining is still perceived as an outdated, polluting activity, which only takes place in remote parts of the planet and of which we practically never have positive news. This perception goes hand in hand with a fairly widespread lack of knowledge about the essential role that raw materials play not only in our day-to-day lives, but also in a sustainable and low-carbon emissions’ future.

The truth is that the EU is currently importing most of the raw materials we use, which maintains a constant trade deficit since 2002. In 2019 alone, that deficit amounted to € 31,000 million.

Although mining activities has growth exponentially in recent years around the globe, they have remained constant in Europe, or have even notably declined, as it is the case with coal and lignite mining. This implies that the EU now represents a much smaller part of the global mining industry than a few decades ago.

In this regard, the European mining industry claims that it does not operate on equal terms with respect to international competition. There is also great concern that many of the essential raw materials for Europe come from parts of the world that lack political and economic stability.

Given this situation, the EU is willing to commit to the best possible strategy: investing in innovation and high environmental standards as our main competitive advantages. The high costs of introducing innovative technologies and services in the sector will be offset by increased productivity and efficiency. In this sense, EU companies are at the forefront of innovation in the supply of raw materials.

Since the European Commission adopted the so-called Raw Materials Initiative in 2008, Europe has been better prepared to face the problem of access to raw materials. Only between 2018 and 2020, the Commission has secured more than € 1,000 million for research and innovation projects related to raw materials through the Horizon 2020 program, which gives an idea of the relevance that this topic has acquired for policymakers.

Another source of funding comes from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), which has funded, since its foundation in 2015, innovation and educational projects on raw materials worth more than € 130 million and has raised external investments to support start -ups worth € 126 million.

The Commission’s support for raw materials and mining projects will be essential in the coming years. Currently, the focus is on collecting accurate information on the available mineral deposits in European territory, not necessarily to open new mines, but also to expand existing mines or operate them more efficiently.

Industry Clusters Connecting Circular Economy

Date: February 11-12, 2020

Venue: Snowcastle Seminar Hall in Kemi, Finland.
The Iberian Sustainable Mining Cluster is presented as a success story to the European Commission at an event in Finland

The Iberian Sustainable Mining Cluster will be presented as a success story next week in Finland at an event with more than 130 high-level representatives of the European context. Under the title ‘Industry Clusters Connecting Circular Economy’, the conference will show several success stories in which industrial clusters from different sectors are contributing to boost their regional ecosystems and move towards a more circular economy.

The cluster’s general director, Santiago Cuesta López, has been invited by the European Commission and the Regional Government of Lapland to present the latest achievements of the ISMC in terms of regional strategy and smart specialization. It will also contribute with his vision on how this type of industrial associations are instrumental to achieve more sustainable and circular societies, showing the ISMC strategy to engage with companies, universities, business associations and research centers.

The ISMC currently has 60 members accounting for 1,400 jobs and an annual turnover of 450 million euros. Among its members are more than 45 companies and 6 collaborating entities, including the Official Association of Mining Engineers of the Center of Spain, the Institute for Business Competitiveness of the Junta de Castilla y León and the universities of Jaén, Granada, León , Oviedo and Polytechnic of Catalonia.

Link to the event |

Agenda | 

Lithium as a strategic material for the energy transition in Europe

Lithium is the essential component of the batteries needed for electric mobility, for all types of electronic devices and for energy storage systems that will ensure a constant supply of energy from renewable sources.

These relevant applications make lithium one of the most strategic elements in the global economy of the coming years, being a key factor in the energy transition and the global objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite having 14 active projects in the exploration phase, the European Union has not yet started a stable lithium production, which generates a negative trade balance not only in the acquisition of lithium, but also in batteries trading. On the other hand, the European Commission aims to lead both the markets of electric vehicles and the energy transition, making our economy highly dependent on lithium imports.

In this context, the European Commission is taking measures to achieve a stable production of lithium ore and centralize the manufacture of batteries in European territory. Another series of measures are aimed at ensuring that batteries both manufactured and imported by the EU meet the highest environmental requirements, including the use of lithium from sustainable and environmentally friendly mining techniques.

In this regard, last December the Vice-President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, warned that the European Union will ban the commercialisation of batteries that do not meet the most stringent environmental standards in their manufacture. This includes the condition that the lithium extracted must come from a responsible source, respectful of the environment and the local communities.

In order to achieve this ambitious goal, the EC has just approved € 3.2 billion in grants for projects to be developed in European territory. Šefčovič estimates that this amount will attract another € 5,000 million in private investment. Only Germany aims to inject more than € 1 billion in various battery projects, followed closely by France with an investment of € 960 million.

Battery Alliance is currently defining the environmental standards for batteries. The batteries market could reach a market share equivalent to € 250 million in 2025 in the EU. This future list of environmental criteria will place particular emphasis on the sustainability of lithium extraction in European territory. There are currently up to 10 lithium mining projects that, if further developed, could lead the EU from 1 to 30% of the global lithium production in 2030.

Welcome to the blog of the Iberian Sustainable Mining Cluster!

Date: February 5, 2020

We would like to welcome you to this blog dedicated to sustainable mining in its broadest sense. We will address interesting issues from the technological perspective, reviewing the latest techniques, methods and innovations across the entire value chain, but also will open debates of a social, economic or political nature that are critical for the raw materials and the mining sectors.

The raw materials and mining value chains entail very complex aspects spanning regional, national and European regulations, access to land for exploration projects, the need for a skilled workforce, access to accurate geological data, appropriate technologies, funding, social acceptance, environmental degradation and many more. We will try to deal with all these topics and will seek contributions from experts to help us dig deeper into the key issues of European mining.

We also intend to use this blog to give voice to all the cluster members who want to participate with their contributions, interests or activities. It will be a free space to open debates, exchange views and propose new, innovative solutions for old political, technical or economic problems in the sector.

We hope you follow us closely and contribute with your ideas and comments, that will be very valuable to all of us. Your contributions are very welcome!

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