EU Policies & Practices and Euromines
Euromines is one of the most important allies for the mining industry in the European Union, as it acts as an interface between companies, NGOs and policy makers and we are happy to share their September 2014 newsletter along with our thoughts on the examples showcased. I have said in a previous article that European mining regions face a high number of EU regulations, difficulties in exchanging information at European and regional levels, a need for closer interaction between companies active in the mining sector and national and regional actors. This assertion is based on the Raw Materials Conference conclusions, the conference that leads the newsletter (pages 3-6), emphasizing the fact that EU growth relies on technological advancements and an improved policy and regulation system for the entire mining industry.
A supporting piece to the assertion made above is the tungsten mine article on pages 10 and 11, where we find out that the Drakelands mine in Devon, the first hard rock metal mine to be built in the UK in over fifty years, has entered the construction phase and is to produce 5,000 tonnes of tungsten concentrates and smaller volumes of tin concentrate over the next 10-15 yeas, while creating jobs for the local community. This deposit alone will meet around 5% of tungsten demand worldwide and is highly significant for the EU14 & EU20 critical mineral lists. Even though the UK still does not have a mineral policy, its land use planning policy and strong environmental controls enabled the permitting process of this scale.
Austria, on the other hand, has a very strong Minerals Strategy (pages 14-15) that aims to support the sustainable supply of raw materials, industrial minerals and commodities and it is focused on three pillars (securing raw materials supply from domestic sources, securing raw material supply from the world market and promoting resource efficiency), as the country’s industry is heavily reliant on the sustainable and competitive supply of resources. The plan has been recognized as “best practice” in the EU, as it aims to identify and safeguard areas with mineral occurrences (except housing zones and Natura 2000 sites) by declaring them raw-material safeguarding sites.
What’s more, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy created an Austrian Raw Material Alliance in 2012 that is now part of the working group of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials, representing the country and the industry’s best interests.
I have mentioned Natura 2000 sites and I have talked about responsible modern mining and its reduced and managed impact to the environment, therefore it makes perfect sense to mention the S&B Industrial Minerals (Greece) public environmental policy (page 18) that focuses on land reclamation in two very different environments: Milos (a small island) and Fokis (a mountainous area). In both areas, the fact that the companies managed to produce plants in their plant nurseries was critical to the rehabilitation process and the objective of achieving no net loss for the environment. Other notable mentions in the newsletter were the three good case practices from Portugal that have been chosen by the European Commission to be showcased this year (pages 12-13), the Bulgarian European Mining Business Forum (page 7), the Swedish rare earths deposits (pages 8-9) and a No Net Loss policy potential direction for the raw materials industry (pages 16-17).
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