17 Aug 2021, 13:37
Benjamin Wehrmann

Europe must consider domestic sourcing of clean energy raw materials – mining industry CEO


European states have to seriously explore possibilities to source key raw materials for more climate-friendly technologies domestically instead of relying on imports from countries with questionable human rights and environmental protection records, Roberto Garcia Martinez of Swedish mining company Eurobattery Minerals writes in a guest article in business newspaper Handelsblatt. "Copper, nickel, lithium, cobalt and rare earths are being imported from these countries, which practically rules out a truly sustainable production of batteries. As states across Europe are busy phasing out coal mining - by far the economically most relevant commodity for extractive industries in the region - new regulation, such as Germany's supply chain law entering into effect in 2023, will make it more difficult to outsource mining activities to third countries, Martinez says. A climate-neutral Europe could not be built on rights violations in other parts of the world, the mining lobbyist argued. All relevant raw materials for e-car production could also be found in Europe, he argues, meaning the region could cover up to 70 percent of its demand with domestic reserves, but high regulatory hurdles mean even modern mining projects take up to ten years to implement. "This can't go on like that," Martinez writes, arguing that Germany and other European countries have to consider a revival of mining activities at home to sustain its environmental ambitions.  

The resource demand of low-emission technologies is much more diversified than that of fossil fuels, meaning that questions regarding the sourcing and recycling of raw materials are set to become more and more pressing, as e-cars, renewable power installations or power battery systems become more widespread. A 2019 UN analysis found that extraction and processing of metals and minerals may account for half of global greenhouse gas emissions and up to 90 percent of biodiversity loss and water stress, which is why initiatives like the supply chain law are increasingly being called for to better monitor and manage the handling of resources.

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