Kerstin Jorna, the European Commission’s Director-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, and SMEs, listed the key elements for the industry to deliver the raw materials: land, skills, finance, and the market. She cited the need for a more efficient permitting process in Europe, referencing the shorter time frames experienced in countries such as Canada and Australia. A call was made for more skilled labour within the sector, as well as potential benefits that could be reaped from EU funds. Furthermore, she illuminated the market division between mining, refining, and recycling, and noted potential growth opportunities from initiatives like those in Germany offering guarantees.
MEP Hildegard Bentele contributed her insights into the challenges associated with the Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA). She advocated for its improved integration with various EU policies, like those related to water, industrial emissions, and nature restoration. Bentele underscored the need to transform the CRMA into a more operational and tangible mechanism, involving major industry stakeholders. She also referenced the significant job creation potential of the sector, anticipating 1.2 million new roles in Europe. In her discussion, Bentele mentioned the critical importance of Member States in the implementation of such strategies and highlighted the strategic importance of projects like Kiruna’s rare earth elements deposit.
Joshua Meyer, EVP Mining Service at FLSmidth, member of Euromines, was among the notable participants, contributing valuable insights into the role of responsible mining and the sector’s need for full assurances to foster broader consensus.
Further into the event, the panel on ‘Skills for the Critical Raw Materials and Net Zero Industry Agendas’ sparked significant interest. The panel discussed the anticipated creation of 1.2 million new jobs in Europe in the raw materials sector and the acute skills shortage Europe is currently grappling with. This conversation underscored the need for modernised education and training to equip the ever-expanding raw materials sector workforce adequately.
The sentiment shared during the event was clear: “Minerals and metals are the new fuel.” This perspective underlines the significance of rare earth elements essential for windmill production, among other things. Participants recognised the need for increased awareness within various Directorates-Generals (DGs) beyond DG Grow, acknowledging the current success of the mining sector despite some obstacles. Specifically, some EU policies, particularly those emphasising environmental considerations and due diligence were perceived to hinder the sector’s objectives. A call for legal coherence in light of the conflicting EU policies was made, underlining the need for a more harmonised regulatory environment.
These insightful discussions at the Raw Materials Summit further reinforce the European raw materials sector’s pivotal role in the green energy transition. We are proud to have contributed to these vital conversations, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to promoting the industry and maintaining its relations with European institutions at all levels.