The ties of the Iberian Sustainable Mining Cluster with Andalusian mining are growing. This is being demonstrated in the strong alliance with AMINER (Association of Research Companies, Extractors, Transformers Miner-Metallurgical, Auxiliary and Services), as well as with more and more companies based in Andalusia and in collaboration in large projects.
On 18 October, 18 SMEs presented the R&D projects that they are developing with MINE.THE.GAP support at this year’s Mining and Minerals Hall 2022 (MMH). The MMH is a world meeting that gathers the present and future knowledge of mining. It took place at the Seville Conference and Exhibition Centre (FIBES) and welcomed professionals of the industry from all over the world.
The ISMC cluster closed this week the first tranche of activities of 2022, having managed to attract to León more than 1.8 million Euros to implement innovation projects, and that will mobilize internationally almost 20M Euros in total from the prestigious Horizon Europe program.
The cluster has participated as an expert in the European Union’s social development reports and in the OECD’s international studies on the importance of raw materials worldwide.
In addition, it has consolidated in 2022 its activity to promote the green economy and sustainability in the field of raw materials, financing through the European mechanisms of cascade financing and innovation bonds to 8 Spanish companies to implement measures of sustainability, environmental protection or circular economy, which have received approximately 1.5M euros of European funds in total thanks to the ISMC.
Approximately 350,000 euros will stay in the province of León, in companies such as Pizarras la Baña, Pizarras Matacouta or IPC Control, which will implement digitization processes and digital twins in their farms, thus reducing their energy consumption or environmental impact.
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The MINE.THE.GAP International Clustering Workshop aims to foster new interregional clustering activities and project ideas among participants, with a focus on the commodity value chain.
The Workshop has been organized in the framework of the MINE.THE.GAP project which consists of nine highly experienced clusters, one RTO and one partnership across Europe. In addition, the co-organizer of the H2020 GREENPEG project will provide support by sharing its innovative technologies in exploration and possible follow-up research ideas.
Companies, clusters, research institutes and other relevant actors in the feedstock sector are invited to participate with their ideas and join the discussion dialogues. The Workshop also offers a great opportunity to establish contacts with all interested parties and stakeholders who, through innovation, want to solve a particular problem.
The Workshop will be held in person and in English. It will be free of charge for all those interested in attending. More information will be updated soon on the MINE.THE.GAP website.
Energy transition and the fight against climate change depend on new sustainable mining to ensure the supply of critical raw materials
Securing sustainable mining projects is only possible with a strong business and financial boost that generates a powerful and tractor investment ecosystem.
Madrid Mining Club, the ICAMCyL Foundation and the ISMC Cluster (Iberian Sustainable Mining Cluster) join forces to organize the Strategic Materials, Business Opportunities and Innovation Roundtable. On Wednesday, June 8, the forum opens in the financial club of Genoa, Madrid, with a first breakfast dedicated to investments in mining and how to generate opportunities to launch projects that ensure the supply of strategic raw materials for our technology and to ensure a sustainable future.
Businessmen and senior managers of the sector, such as the CEO of Atalaya Mines, Alberto Lavandeira will explain and expose success stories in the development of circular and sustainable projects that will ensure the supply of raw materials to our future generations. A second panel of investment experts such as Philippe Cohen will facilitate experiences and strategies to ensure the financial boost of mining projects. The forum will close with the participation of authorities and representatives of the European Commission, supported by experts such as Santiago Cuesta-López, representative of Spain in the European Alliance of Innovation in Raw Materials, will draw the regulatory framework and opportunities, that the European institutions are pushing for to facilitate the creation of a flow towards sustainable projects that will ensure Europe’s energy independence and transition, and the resilience of our industrial value chains.
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”
Scandium, lanthanum, praseodymium, neodymium, are some of the so-called rare earth elements, fundamental for new technologies along with other raw materials that have been declared critical, for their industrial importance: lithium, tungsten, magnesium, cobalt…
These raw materials have never been abundant and as a result of the crisis unleashed by the pandemic, being able to obtain them has become even more complicated.
A determining factor for regions such as Europe, which is highly dependent: although many of them are present in its soils, it has to import them at a rate of 90%.
The new solution proposed by Santiago Cuesta, Director General of the ICAMCYL Foundation, is for Europe to exploit (“sustainably”) the rare earths and critical materials within its borders to reduce dependence on the outside world.
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The director of the International Center for Advanced Materials and Raw Materials of Castile and León, Fundación Icamcyl, Santiago Cuesta, will represent Spain in the European Union within the group of experts that will guide the European Alliance of Innovation in Raw Materials.
At the proposal of the permanent embassy of Spain in the European Union, the European Commission has selected the profile of Cuesta among more than one hundred professionals from the 27 member countries as an expert technologist, who in addition, through the Icamcyl Foundation, will seek to position León and Bierzo in Europe as regions rich in strategic raw materials.
Likewise, Santiago Cuesta pointed out the «relevance» of the role of Icamcyl and the Cluster for Sustainable Mining within the policies of the European Union «to achieve a future for regions such as Castile and León and regions such as the Bierzo, rich in endogenous resources». In this sense, he recalled that last year was launched «one of the most important initiatives of the Union to grant cascading financing to SMEs in the mining sector, in the context of a fair transition and change towards sustainable mining of strategic raw materials», while strategic investment platforms for regions, including mining projects, will be launched in the coming weeks
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The energy transition policy of the European Union and the Government of Spain ended months ago with the historic coal mining sector in the province, and dragged the closure of thermal plants that now begin their dismantling processes and propose investment projects that begin to be shelled.
The disappearance of coal opens the way for access to the millions of funds that the EU puts on the table to face the Just Transition in energy. They are now joined by the Covid European Recovery Fund. A multimillion-dollar budget that awaits the competition of ideas and projects that are made with funding. In addition, projects that hoard public funds that add impetus and private investment to create new economic ecosystems, marked by technology and digitization, able to reconvert previous employment and create new sectors, and energizers of the regions now gripped by the end of fossil fuels.
The International Center for Advanced Materials and Raw Materials (Icamcyl) and the Cluster for Sustainable Mining of the Iberian Peninsula are involved in this dynamic. Its CEO, Santiago Cuesta, has participated in two of the main annual discussion forums organised by the European Commission, one on the role of clusters and the other on fair transition. In the latter he defended «as a case of success» the initiative launched in León (in the autonomous mining area, from El Bierzo to Palencia) which seeks to value the mineral wealth of the area in critical raw materials for the technology industry through the new tools of sustainable mining.
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The Managing Director of Icamcyl Foundation, Santiago Cuesta López, announced in León the project Mine the Gap, the most important in the Innosup business promotion program that will involve the recovery of SMEs in the mining sector within the framework of the green pact, the circular economy and the just transition.
Mine The Gap will finance the sustainable transformation and modernization of mining SMEs through innovation vouchers. Icamcyl and the cluster for sustainable mining will become its axis of transformation and business recovery.
The Mine the Gap project, led and coordinated by the Icamcyl Foundation, has a budget of five million euros, of which almost four million will be used to finance innovation projects in SMEs in the raw materials sector in collaboration with technology companies in other sectors.
These projects will be channelled through eleven European partners, of which nine are industrial clusters representing more than a thousand members and up to 529 SMEs. The participating countries (Germany, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Poland, Portugal and Spain) account for more than 50% of all SMEs in the mining sector in Europe.
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