Santiago Cuesta López, general director of the national cluster for sustainable mining in Spain, is the Spanish representative on the European Commission’s expert committee charged with finding a solution to the rare earth crisis. In a 20-minute interview, he said that it is necessary to exploit “in a sustainable way” the rare earths and critical materials that exist in Europe to avoid relying on other continents.
“Rare earths are elements that were named precisely because they are not very abundant in the earth’s crust,” explains the expert, who points out their peculiarity by having “very special properties to different types of materials”. And he gives the example of neodymium, withoutwhich “we could not make permanent, high-powered magnets”, and without them “high magnetic fields” like those present in nuclear magnetic resonances could not be generated. ” Nor could we have the engines of the windmills to generate renewable energies, or the motors for electric scooters”
The problem is that European countries do not take advantage of the raw materials and rare earths they have in their territories. Without going any further, Spain has underground 10% of the world’s reserves of tungsten in Salamanca and Castile, and the same percentage of those of tungsten, which “is exported to other countries to be returned to us transformed later”. ” We need a completely new vision of raw materials, including mining, but always sustainable, with new technologies and circularity”