Wed, 2011-02-02 10:12

New Communication: The Commission calls for action on commodities and raw materials

Brussels, 2nd February 2011:

Euromines welcomes the issuing of the new EU’s Communication on “Tackling the challenges in commodity markets and on raw materials”.

In particular the sector welcomes the acknowledgement of the importance of raw materials for the growth of the European economy.

“At the heart of current developments lies a series of changes in global supply and demand patters as well as short term shocks in key commodity and raw material markets. The years 2002 to 2008 were marked by a major surge in demand for raw materials, driven by strong economic growth, particularly in emerging countries such as China. This increase in demand will be reinforced by the further rapid industrialisation and urbanisation in countries such as China, India and Brazil. China is already the largest consumer of metals in the world – its share of copper consumption, for example, has risen from 12% to about 40% over the last 10 years. Prices movements have been exacerbated by various structural problems in the supply and distribution chains of different commodities.”

The extractive sector has been very supportive of the work conducted so far and welcomes the proposals made by the Commission in its Communication with regard to

  • assessing future market demands in Europe and worldwide;
  • improving the access from European resources through the proposed actions jointly with the Member States to increase the availability and supply of raw materials to Europe to secure the viability and growth of the European economy;
  • assessing the criticality of raw materials and the need to review the list of these raw materials every 5 years;
  • fostering research and innovation through creation of a European Innovation Partnership and supporting the research in the area of raw material exploration, processing and recovery and recycling.

The Europe 2020 Strategy underlines the need to promote technologies that increase investment in the EU’s natural assets. Extractive industries fall under this category, but its development is hindered by a heavy regulatory framework and competition with other land uses.

The Commission considers that the following practices are particularly important in promoting investments in extractive industries:

  • defining a National Minerals Policy, to ensure that mineral resources are exploited in an economically viable way, harmonised with other national policies, based on sustainable development principles and including a commitment to provide an appropriate legal and information framework;
  • setting up a land use planning policy for minerals that comprises a digital geological knowledge base, a transparent methodology for identifying mineral resources, long term estimates for regional and local demand and identifying and safeguarding mineral resources (taking into account other land uses);
  • putting in place a process to authorise minerals exploitation and extraction which is clear, understandable, provides certainty and helps to streamline the administrative process (e.g. the introduction of lead times, permit applications in parallel, and one-stop-shop).

While significant progress has been made in implementing the RMI, further improvements are necessary. An integrated approach based on the three pillars is essential, as each contributes to the objective of ensuring a fair and sustainable supply of raw materials to the EU. The European extractive sector will continue to support the Commission’s initiative and is welcoming the Member States’ active involvement in tackling the challenges outlined.

Press Release