Category: News

Table of strategic materials, procurement and innovation

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.


Rare earths and the location.

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”

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Rare earths and critical raw materials

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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Icamcyl, ISMC an the European Union

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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León’s potential in new raw materials mining

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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Icamcyl will manage from León the projects of 500 companies

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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New value chain

Mine the Gap seeks to boost innovation to meet the top ten needs of sustainable mining in the 21st century, from social responsibility, the circular economy, accelerating investments, creating new technological value chains, the environmental footprint, worker health, the incorporation of new technologies, robotics,…

To select the 80 companies whose projects will be distributed a fund of 4.5 million euros the committee of experts led by Icamcyl will listen in a competitive way to the main companies in Europe working in raw materials to select the best ones, help them and finance them with innovation bonuses and coaching.

The programme has two levels of financial support, in addition to monitoring and expert advice. The first level is direct financing, with grants of 50,000 in 50,000 euros, against innovation projects. It also allows for cooperation between companies to tackle major projects.

The second level is to generate an exchange of about 10,000 euros for advisory services to go to Brussels, to international fairs in different places, to events to meet other companies; and thus have access to new business models and new opportunities and investments.

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The new life of coal.

Coal mining has its days numbered in Spain. Good proof of this is the transition process that Castile and León is currently experiencing, CyL is a community rich in mineral resources that has seen the need to evolve from unsustainable and abusive exploitation of the territory to a new sustainable mining of the 21st century.

In response to the plan to revitalize the mining basins approved in the Cortes of Castile and León, the ICAMCyL Foundation -International Center for the Study of Advanced Materials and Raw Materials of Castile and León- has emerged, which seeks, among other objectives, be able to generate technology capable of recovering coal for use other than burning it

One of the main axes that the foundation is developing is focused on revaluing and restoring the rubble heaps, the result of years of mining exploitation in the past, in line with the EU strategic plan on critical raw materials.

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ISMC Creation

The Mining Cluster was born in Castile and León, one of the main mining regions of Europe, but has a national and international dimension. It is a development model that consolidates the strengths of the industrial and service regions characteristic of these territories and promotes sustained economic growth.

The constitution of this Mining Cluster is strategic for Castilla y León and its international dimension that has already aroused the interest of European entities such as the EIT through the KIC in Raw Materials. Europe considers clusters as vehicles for wealth generation and collaborative cross-border tools for development in key areas.

The objective of the Mining Cluster is to generate wealth and this will translate into new opportunities and jobs in the sector of sustainable mining of new materials in the medium and long term.

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ISMC Cluster presentation

The Icamcyl Foundation will present next week the Mining Cluster, which will bring together more than thirty companies (and continue to join) to join efforts in R&D, international projects and business opportunities for the mining and raw materials sector.

The Cluster was born in Castile and León, but has a national and international dimension. This figure is a development model that increases competitiveness and promotes sustained economic growth, as well as new services and opportunities for businesses. Clusters in Europe are a vehicle for innovation and wealth generation, as well as a collaborative cross-border tool for development in key areas.

The Mining Cluster that we will present is strategic for Castile and León, and therefore has the support of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Junta de Castilla y León. But not only that, but it has already aroused the interest of European reference entities such as the EIT (European Institute of Technology based in Budapest) through the KIC (Knowledge Communities to innovation) in raw materials.

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