Sustainable Finance

Mitigating supply risk by providing materials for low-carbon technologies, sustainable agriculture, and the resilience of Europe’s manufacturing value chains means investing in Europe’s raw materials 

Sustainable Finance Action Plan

European mining companies have regularly taken measures to reduce mining related emissions, such as investing in alternative electricity generation and supply or switching to renewable energy sources for their electricity supply. Most major mines in Europe are heavily investing in electrification and remote operation of their internal transportation, transport lines and machinery including investments in battery technology, electric mine trucks, electric trolley lines, electric conveyor belts and transport routes. Together with its equipment suppliers and downstream customers, the mining industry is investing in new and further research in developing raw material feeds that will allow reduction in carbon emissions in further processing. For example, Europe is leading the international mining and steel industries’ search for new reduction processes with the aim of making steel with no carbon emissions whatsoever.

European mineral products also trigger emission reductions in other sectors of the economy. For example, new infrastructure for alternative energies requires increased use of metals and minerals, in particular steel for pipelines and mining equipment, copper and graphite for electricity cables, generators and electric motors, aluminium, primarily for electricity cables, and a host of other metals and minerals including phosphorous, potassium and nitrogen for biomass production. Producing a 3-megawatt wind turbine may require 335 tonnes of steel, 4.7 tonnes of copper, 1,200 tonnes of concrete, 3 tonnes of aluminium, 2 tonnes of rare earth elements as well as zinc. This illustrates the volume of raw materials needed for the green transition.

Solar photovoltaic panels and thermal systems use a combination of up to 22 non-ferrous metals, silicon, chemicals (e.g. organic electrolytes) and a specific type of flat glass. Improvements in solar energy cells are shifting some of the materials needed, and now include gallium arsenide, gallium indium phosphide and germanium. Besides these elements, solar panels may also contain molybdenum, zinc, cadmium, sulphur and aluminium.

Metals and minerals are essential for manufacturing any renewable energy supply technologies. Low-carbon technologies require significant amounts of steel, iron, copper, aluminium, zinc, nickel etc. as well as a vast array of speciality metals. In most cases, the annual demand for raw materials used in certain low-carbon technologies is projected to increase significantly by 2030.

When determining the contribution brought by a specific economic activity, three strategic segments should be addressed simultaneously: the sustainable supply of the raw materials needed to support the economic activity; the contribution of other activities upstream and downstream; and the closure of associated material loops (the shift from linear to circular thinking). Only through an integrated value chain approach can real advances in climate change mitigation be understood, achieved and evaluated over a long-term horizon.

The raw materials contribution to the implementation of the EU Sustainable Finance Action Plan - Euromines Position - Flipbook