Mining of the 21st century – Towards a sustainable industry essential for the energy transition
The mining industry provides the raw materials that are the basis of most industrial value chains and, as such, it is of utmost importance for the industrial, social, and technological progress of all societies. A viable and responsible minerals & metals mining industry provides essential assets to society’s sustainable development, promoting innovation and growth and supporting the transition to a low-carbon, more circular economy.
On the other hand, there is a general lack of awareness of the importance of mineral raw materials in today’s society and an overall negative view on the concept of mining, strongly related to the use of non-modern, less environmentally friendly and even outdated methods and technologies. This is particularly relevant for SMEs, which lack the tractor effect of big industries and therefore suffer from an innovation deficit, low cross-sector fertilisation and a weak disruptive potential.
The growing development of new technologies is proving that sustainability and environmental protection are not against but are also a source of social and economic wealth for territories traditionally linked to the extractive industry. Successful business opportunities are being developed through the use of new advanced manufacturing techniques, information and communication technologies (ICT), energy efficiency and circularity in the raw materials and mining sectors.
These objectives are also in line with the EU Raw Materials Initiative (RMI), whose three pillars aim to ensure:
  • Fair and sustainable supply of raw materials from global markets
  • Sustainable supply of raw materials within the EU
  • Resource efficiency and supply of ‘secondary raw materials‘ through recycling
Sustainable mining challenges
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