Social acceptance of non-energy mineral raw materials extractive activities is a key to the sustainable supply of these raw materials from European sources, one of the three pillars of the EU Raw Materials Initiative.
Building on the experience gained at the broad international and corporate levels, the REMIND commitment objective is to develop and implement an EU "Responsible Mining" concept. Based on existing experience at EU and international levels, it will:
• Develop multi-stakeholder dialogue in support of sustainable non-energy extractive industries;
• Develop and promote a "EU Responsible Mining Charter" and related sustainable performance reporting, building on existing sustainability indicators frameworks and reporting guidelines, with suggestions on possible needs for additional or improved indicators;
• Foster the development of institutional and corporate capacities to implement the concept.
The development of "Responsible", "Green Mining" or, more generally, sustainable mineral raw materials extractive activities, is a core objective of national (mineral) raw materials strategies developed and published by several EU governments since 2010, see for example Germany, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The implementation of this commitment will, if supported by the necessary EU co-funding, be implemented in two phases:
PHASE I (18 months)
• Identification of responsible mining initiatives or, more generally, good practice in the sustainable production of non-energy mineral raw materials, with particular focus on successful multi-stakeholder dialogue and consensus development in support of sustainable mining projects;
• Set-up an Advisory board of organisations/ competent persons to provide guidance and experience to the project;
• Identification of responsible mining related requirements of EU mining codes;
• Identification, and assessment at EU and global scale of existing voluntary sustainability reporting frameworks related to the full mining project lifecycle (exploration, mining, ore processing, waste disposal, mine closure and aftercare). Examples are the European Commission Non-Energy Extractive Sustainable Development Indicators published in 2003, the "Circumpolar Information Guide on Mining for Indigenous Peoples and Northern Communities" (Arctic Council), the “Pan-European Reserves and Resources Reporting Committee” reporting code (PERC) and other CRIRSCO aligned codes, the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Global Mining Initiative and the International Cyanide Management Code;
• Development of an EU guidance document, or a series of documents, on responsible mining, built upon the identified good practice, addressing all the above mentioned stages of a mining project;
• Development of publicly available e-learning modules to assist in training the staff of the public authorities in charge of the mine licencing procedure, especially from the national environmental authorities, to help them in their evaluation of the technically complex documentation to be provided by mining companies with their application for mining permits;
• Development of a “Responsible mining” charter defining voluntary obligations for participating companies in the project. This will include a verification process based on an agreed sustainable performance reporting framework.
PHASE II (48 months) – tentative outline (to be fully identified during Phase I)
• Implementation of the “Responsible mining” charter by participating companies particularly through the publication of the sustainable performance data of their operations, by the organisation of a proactive dialogue with their stakeholders – especially with populations concerned by the potential development of future activities;
• Monitoring and evaluation of the deployment of the “Responsible mining” concept using the verification process defined during Phase I;
• Identification of further needs for research and innovation activities;
• Enlargement of the number of companies and institutions committed to the “Responsible mining” Charter;
• Outreach actions, such as conferences, organisation by participating companies of a yearly "Mining day" for their stakeholders and the general public, website/ EU mineral resources portal, videos, meetings with stakeholders, preparation of educative materials targeting secondary school and university students, support to developping countries.
Public acceptance of quarrying and mining activities within the EU is one of the key conditions for a stable supply of non-energy mineral raw materials needed by the EU economy, in complement to the enhancement of the circular component of the economy based on a combination of more efficient resource use; the minimization of harmful waste and emissions; eco-efficient product design; recycling; and the search for more eco-efficient substitute materials.
Through the development of public trust, based on accountability of industrial operations, the project aims at lowering the prevailing public distrust in the mining industry, to make the EU a more attractive location for minerals and raw materials investment. The key impact will therefore be a higher rate of supply of mineral raw materials to the EU from EU sources, reducing the exposure of the EU economies to:
• Market distortions created by various non-EU countries that implement tariff and non-tariff barriers to the free trade and movement of minerals and metals;
• Actions by third party countries in resource-rich countries;
• Geopolitical hazards;
• The environmental, social and political impacts associated with some imports.
Moreover, through the implementation of verifiable sustainable performance reporting, and through raising awareness of its value to all stakeholders, the companies participating in this project will contribute to enhanced resource efficiency and the extent to which decoupling between growth and the environmental impacts of growth is taking place and can continue.
The project will also impact positively on the education of students and the general public in sustainable natural resources management.
The 20 Partners are from 10 EU countries and comprise:
• Companies (5) involved in mining and/or exploration: 1 major company (ERAMET, FR, involved in mining, metallurgy of non-ferrous metals and recycling) and 4 juniors (EUROCOLT, the Portuguese subsidiary of COLT RESOURCES, developing mining projects in Portugal; TASMAN MINERALS developing rare earth and tungsten projects in Sweden; HELLAS GOLD with 1 active mine and 2 advanced development projects in Greece); VARISCAN MINES (Early stage exploration in France);
• Academia and research institutes (5: FI, FR, GR, PL, SE);
• Geological surveys (7: ES, FI, FR, GR, IE, RO, SE);
• Engineering companies and consultancies (3: AT, DE, SE);
Some additional partners will be sought including NGOs, research organisations in social sciences and the development/ management of multi-stakeholder dialogue and industry associations.
Partnership coordination, scientific contributions in relation to sustainable development, international networking, mineral exploration, ore processing, biohydrometallurgy, material flows and life cycle analysis, post mining management, environmental management. Follow-up of the operations in France and management of the French Responsible Mining project (Ministry for Industrial Renewal - BRGM)