Category: News

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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Cluster formation.

The Leon Technology Park hosted the official presentation of the Mining Cluster established under the auspices of the Icamcyl Foundation and of which almost 40 companies from the sector are already part, which will join efforts in research and development, international projects and business opportunities to drive a new sustainable mining. All this based on critical materials essential for the industry and keys to the European industry.

In this regard, the main objective of the new Cluster is to become a vehicle to improve business competitiveness and contribute to the ecosystem of innovation, shared knowledge and integration of technological solutions within a new European context for connecting the mining regions of the continent. This, together with the boom of raw materials that avoid the industry’s dependence on foreign resources” will allow the recovery in the basins of a sustainable mining activity through local companies that move their activity to a new mining of critical materials essential to the industry and key to the European industrial heart.

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Official Constitution of ISMC Cluster

On September 27, will take place in the Assembly Hall of the building of common uses of the Technological Park of León (Calle Julia Morros s/n), the official constitution of a mining cluster. An appointment in which the objectives of the cluster, mode of work and functions will be explained.

This initiative is a significant step in the actions related to the mining and raw materials sector, as reported by the International Center for Advanced Materials and Raw Materials (Icamcyl), to be carried out from the territory of the community, but with national and international repercussions.

Carlos Martín Tobalina, Deputy Minister of Economy and Competitiveness of the Junta de Castilla y León; Ricardo González Mantero, Managing Director of Energy and Mines of the Junta de Castilla y León; Antonio Silván, Mayor of León; Juan Martínez Majo, president of the Diputación de León; Santiago Cuesta, general director of the Mining Cluster and Juan José Alonso, president of the Cluster’s Board of Directors.

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H2020 MINE.THE.GAP project, led and coordinated by ICAMCyL Foundation, has a total budget of € 5 million, € 4 million of which will go to directly finance innovation projects in the raw materials and mining sectors with the support of technology providers from other sectors. This funding will be channeled through 9 European industrial clusters, one of them being the Iberian Sustainable Mining Cluster (ISMC), also part of the project’s Consortium.

ISMC has achieved its first European project within the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. MINE.THE.GAP belongs to the call H2020 INNOSUP, whose main objective is to provide technical and financial support to SMEs through industrial clusters. The project will have a decisive impact on the raw materials and mining sectors, since most of its budget (around € 4 million) must be dedicated to directly finance innovation projects and services in SMEs of these sectors.

During this three-year project, at least two open calls will be held for SMEs to carry out innovation projects in the mining sector. These projects will include an SME from the raw materials and mining sector and two technology providers in the fields of ICT, circular economy, advanced manufacturing, or resource efficiency. At least 30 projects will be financed, benefiting up to 90 SMEs from the sectors involved.

In addition to these funding rounds, MINE.THE.GAP will offer free services to SMEs in the participating sectors in the areas of internationalization, technology watch, technology transfer, training, partners’ search and exchange programs. These services are expected to give a decisive boost to the modernization of the European mining sector, one of the most affected in terms of productivity and employment in the recent decades.

A decisive support for economic recovery after the COVID-19 crisis

This project comes at a critical moment for our local economies, severely affected by the lockdown due to COVID-19. Santiago Cuesta, ISMC’s cluster manager, has noted: “MINE.THE.GAP entails a unique opportunity for mining SMEs to use European financing to stimulate the return to activity after the recent lockdown.” Santiago Cuesta has also added that the European Commission is examining the possibility of creating an urgent call specifically aimed at mitigating the effects of the COVID crisis on SMEs in the sectors of interest in the project.

Interregional and intersectoral impact at European level

11 European partners participate in MINE.THE.GAP project, 9 of them being industrial clusters representing more than 1,000 members and up to 529 SMEs. The participating countries (Germany, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Poland, Portugal and Spain) represent more than 50% of all SMEs in the mining sector in Europe, which gives a good idea of ​​the potential impact on the sector in terms of competitiveness and economic growth.

MINE.THE.GAP will be strongly focused on promoting interregional and intersectoral collaboration at European level, meaning that those projects that involve synergies not only between different sectors but also between the different participating European regions will be prioritized.

Both ICAMCyL Foundation and the Iberian Sustainable Mining Cluster believe that this project will strongly contribute to the modernization and increase of competitiveness of the national mining SMEs, having a great impact in productivity and sustainability in the longer term.

The project will kick off in September and a first urgent open call is expected to be released as soon as possible, hopefully before the end of the year. These calls will be addressed to all SMEs in the mining sector willing to present novel ideas for the modernization of their processes and services in collaboration will technology provider companies. In this respect, the Iberian Sustainable Mining Cluster (ISMC) will make a big effort to communicate and prepare the SMEs belonging to the association to present innovative and competitive projects.

Santiago Cuesta López highlights the huge impact that this project will have for SMEs in the raw materials and mining sectors: ‘MINE.THE.GAP is a unique opportunity for the mining sector to embrace new technologies and follow the trends of sustainability and circularity worldwide‘. He also points out the relevance of the role of ICAMCyL and the ISMC within the project: ‘ICAMCyL has managed to attract millions of euros in direct funding for SMEs in the mining sector. This will be key for our mining territories at the regional and national level. Moreover, the presence of the ISMC cluster guarantees the impact of this project in our territory.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 873149.

HORIZON 2020 project’s

ISMC is looking for a creative company to build our soon-to-start Horizon 2020 project’s website. We are really excited about this new project and what we need right now is an experienced company to design and develop a beautiful and engaging dedicated website.

This project will promote interaction among hundreds of companies and stakeholders, so it needs to be really interactive, usable, with a powerful design that ensures maximum outreach and visibility.

We are looking for an experienced company with:

  • A portfolio of website examples from previous European projects.
  • The ability to create a dynamic, highly interactive website that will need to evolve over time.
  • The right schedule to incorporate this project into your workflow in the next few weeks and take care of the first steps asap: e.g. hosting, domain, e-mail addresses, visual identity, etc.

If you think your company fits our requirements please contact us at:

Send us a document with a brief description and capabilities of your company, links to EU projects’ websites developed, and estimated time and budget needed to fulfil a regular EU project like this based on your previous experience.

We are waiting for your brilliant ideas! 😊


The Rector of the University of Oviedo, Santiago García Granda, and the general director of ICAMCyL Foundation, Santiago Cuesta López, have signed a cooperation agreement with the aim of promoting research and the generation of scientific and technological knowledge in the fields of advanced materials, raw materials, nanotechnology, mining, processing technologies and the circular economy.

ICAMCyL will contribute to this agreement by promoting their main lines of work, namely, sustainable mining, advanced materials and nanomaterials, priority lines also for the University of Oviedo and aligned with the work of research groups adhering to the Cluster of Energy, Environment and Climate Change of this University.

ICAMCyL being a member of the European Smart Specialization Platform (S3P) on Mining Industry, Related Industries and Services and Global Value Chains will also be key in this collaboration. This platform, coordinated by the Finnish regions of Lapland and North Karelia together with Castilla y León in Spain, has the main objective of spreading the knowledge of expert organisations to support regional growth and new business and work opportunities, and to create also a solid European collaboration among the regions involved in this initiative.

ICAMCyL is also involved in different projects and initiatives at regional and European level aimed at recovering raw materials from inactive mine tailings for reuse as a source of secondary raw materials.

On the other hand, the University of Oviedo is part as a collaborating entity of the Iberian Sustainable Mining Cluster (ISMC), managed by ICAMCyL Foundation. Within this cluster, which has now more than 60 members among large companies, SMEs, associations, technology centres and universities, both organizations contribute to promoting sustainable growth of the mining sector, creating new businesses and job opportunities and coordinate efforts to achieve a new strategic and sustainable mining in Europe.

Through this agreement, which will remain active for four years, both institutions commit themselves to promote joint research, optimize their material and human resources, and collaborate in the completion of Final Degree Projects, Master’s Final Projects and Doctoral Theses for graduate and postgraduate students. They will also participate in different events and activities such as conferences, seminars or exhibitions in which their mutual interests converge.

ISMC takes part in the Raw Materials Week

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 

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