Raw materials

The Raw Materials Initiative (RMI) aims at providing the framework conditions to establish an integrated strategy to face the challenges related to the access to non-energy and non-agricultural raw materials. It also tries to facilitate the sustainable supply of raw materials.

In 2008, the European Commission issued its “Communication on the Raw Materials Initiative - Meeting our critical needs for growth and jobs in Europe”, COM(2008)699, aimed at improving access to raw materials in Europe on a three-pillar based approach:

  • ensuring a level playing field in access to resources in third countries;
  • fostering sustainable supply of raw materials from European sources,
  • boosting resource efficiency and promoting recycling.

During 2010, and as part of preparation of a second communication on the RMI, a public consultation was launched inviting stakeholders to comment on several issues related to raw materials. IMA-Europe participated in the consultation. The comments received were used to prepare the Communication “Tackling the challenges in commodity markets and on raw materials” (COM(2011)25), published in February 2011. IMA-Europe welcomed this Communication, which not only reported on the progress made with the implementation of this initiative, but also indicated future actions. 

Critical Raw Materials

Reliable access to raw materials in a growing concern within the EU. To address it, the European Commission has created a list of critical raw materials (CRMs) for the EU, regularly reviews and updated, combining materials of high importance to the economy and of high risk associated with their supply. The third and latest list of CRMs was published in 2017 and included 27 CRMs. Of the minerals represented by IMA Europe, only Borate is included in the CRMs list.

European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials

In view of promoting innovation in the non-energy, non-agricultural raw material sectors, the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials was launched in 2012.  The EIP RM brings together all stakeholders – Member States, companies, NGOs, researchers, etc. – in view of developing common strategies, joint resources and ensure the development and implementation of innovative solutions along the entire value chain of raw materials. The underlying objective of the Partnership is to make Europe the world leader in exploration, extraction, processing, recycling and substitution by 2020. In order to facilitate the process, the Commission has proposed a number of concrete targets that are to be achieved by 2020. The EIP’s structure is based on the principles set up in the Innovation Union, with the purpose of having the right balance between high-level commitment and functional coordination as well as distributed operational responsibilities.

The Work Packages identified in the EIP on Raw Materials are the following:

  • WP 1 - Developing innovative technologies and solutions for sustainable and safe raw materials supply
  • WP 2 – Developing innovative and sustainable solutions for the appropriate substitution of critical and scarce raw materials
  • WP 3 - Improving EU's raw materials regulatory framework, knowledge and infrastructure base
  • WP 4 - Improving the regulatory framework conditions, notably by promoting excellence and prevention, preparation for re-use and recycling through public (e.g. procurement) and private initiatives
  • WP 5 – International framework – horizontal approach

With a seat in the HLSG – and consequently in the Sherpa Group – and numerous nominations in the OGs, IMA-Europe has been identified as a relevant stakeholder within the discussions of the Partnership.

IMA-Europe is involved in several innovation projects and raw material commitments under the EIP RM, some of which co-funded under Horizon 2020:

  • MINGUIDE (2016-2019): a Horizon 2020 project, developing a comprehensive "Minerals Policy Guide" of EU and national legislation on minerals and related areas in 28 Member States. IMA Europe is part of the Advisory Board.
  • MINLEX (2016): Study on the legal framework for mineral extraction and permitting procedures for exploration and exploitation in the EU commissioned by the European Commission.
  • MINATURA (2015-2018): A Horizon 2020 project defining and safeguarding "mineral deposits of public importance" to ensure future best use. IMA Europe is a Project Partner. 
  • MINLAND (2018-2021): A H2020 project following up on the MINATURA Project seeking to integrate mineral resources policies into land-use planning. IMA Europe is a Project Partner.
  • MICA (Mineral Intelligence Capacity Analysis): A H2020 project which aims to identify and define stakeholder groups and their raw material intelligence needs; consolidate relevant data on primary and secondary raw materials; investage needs for European mineral policy development; and link the derived intelligence to the EU Raw Materials Information System (RMIS) developed by the EU Joint Research Centre. 
  • European Minerals Day (2012-2020): pan-European open day initiative fostering public awareness, acceptance and trust. IMA Europe is the lead coordinator.
  • IMAGINe (2014-2020): industrial minerals associations global information network connecting a wide range of stakeholders and promoting the exchange of information and a sustainable mining culture
  • BIODIMA (2015-2020): Exchange best practices on biodiversity management at extraction sites and develop a communication platform for the industrial minerals sector.  

Raw Materials Supply Group (RMSG)

The RMSG is a stakeholder group formed by industry, environmental NGOs, trade unions, Member States, candidate countries and the Commission which was established in the 80’s to address the issue of the supply of raw materials. Two main areas of work for this group are the identification of critical raw materials and the exchange of best practices in the area of land use planning and administrative conditions for exploration and extraction.

Another area that is covered by the RMSG is the identification of Critical Raw Materials. The first exercise was carried out between April 2009 and June 2010 by an ad-hoc Expert Group and concluded with a list of 14 economically important raw materials subject to a higher risk of supply interruption. Critical raw materials are not necessarily geologically scarce. Other aspects, such as change in the geopolitical-economic framework that may have a direct impact on the supply and demand of raw materials have been taken into account. The group is currently working on the review of the list, which is expected to be finalized during 2013.