Access to mineral raw materials is crucial for the economies and well-being of the European society. The second pillar of the European Commission’s Raw Materials Initiative calls for wider exploration and sustainable extraction of the European Union (EU)’s own mineral resources. Europe´s mineral potential is under-explored and needs further investments. Likewise Europe’s discovered and undiscovered non-energy mineral deposits, especially those areas holding mineral deposits of public importance (MDoPIs), need special protection and safeguarding against sterilization. The goal of SAFEMIN is to foster the safeguarding of such deposits (and the surrounding surface areas holding them) by their inclusion in land use planning instruments and national mineral policies.
National Mineral Policies (NMPs) are political frameworks which should create awareness of the societal needs for minerals, the need of a sustainable supply and should establish guiding principles so that the mineral resources in a national territory can be discovered and remain available for their best use. Land use planning policies and marine spatial plans are essential instruments for the implementation of NMPs. Land use planning (LUP) is an integrative process, in which different land uses are subject to evaluation where land use planning authorities establish priorities. Where identified, MDoPIs should be evaluated to become a priority.
This Commitment highlights that mining and quarrying may be compatible with other land uses often considered incompatible (e.g. nature conservation) if sustainability requirements are met and if fair balanced assessments take place during the LUP. Extraction activities are a temporary land use which might even be (in some cases) beneficial for the environment if proper reclamation is conducted. Another key message is that areas known to host (or with potential for) MDoPIs are as valuable as other land uses, so they must be taken into account in parity with them.
SAFEMIN’s objectives and activities involve regular meetings and workshops to exchange on good practices and discuss a harmonized policy framework that enables the integration of the concept of mineral deposits of public importance and mineral safeguarding areas into national and regional mineral policy and land use planning policies. Workshops will also serve to discuss how best to link land use planning and national mineral policies. SAFEMIN will source the MDoPI concept from the advances in the Minatura2020 project and will discuss with public authorities (land use planning authorities, other public authorities), industry representatives and other stakeholders which are the most effective instruments and approaches to sucesfully include it in land use plans in fair and equal terms with other land uses.
The overall objective of SAFEMIN is to improve the safeguarding of non-energy mineral deposits of public importance (MDoPIs) by means of their integration in national and regional land use planning and mineral policies. The extraction of such mineral resources may or may not take place in a near future; however, accessibility to the area holding them should remain unimpeded, or at least, extraction should be considered before any form of sterilising development can go ahead. A specific objective of the Commitment is to encourage European countries to develop and include in their national mineral policies (or mineral resource strategies) land use plans regulating land uses and mineral resources. SAFEMIN will review and seek harmonization of mineral planning policies in order to achieve a balanced land use planning in which MDoPIs are treated in parity with other land uses.
SAFEMIN supports and enhances the work developed within the MINATURA2020 project which seeks to bring forward the concept of MDoPI and their implementation in land use planning processes for non-energy minerals. The consortium members are actively involved in the development of concepts, methodologies and instruments for this, and SAFEMIN ensures a continuation and an upgrade of the knowledge collected with the MINATURA2020 project.
The planned activities involve the implementation of pan-european, national and regional workshops for the exchange and analysis of how the areas with (or with potential for) MDoPI are integrated in national mineral and land use planning (LUP) policies in different European countries and at all levels of implementation (national, regional, local). Some of these workshops have already taken place (e.g. pan-european workshop in Cardiff in March 2016) or are planned to take place (e.g. Scandinavian workshop in Sweden, September 2016).
Participants at meetings and workshops are expected to be EC representants, experts, urban development, energy and other land use planning authorities, mining authorities, industry representatives, and the civil society. Some worskhops will be targeted to public authorities in order to promote cooperation between them.
Workshops will give room to analyse good examples of LUP policies and case studies will be investigated via practical exercises. Such exercises will develop and test concepts and instruments that enable the safeguarding of areas with valuable mineral deposits (or potential for discovery). Some workshops will discuss conceptual approaches, methodologies and recommendations of how best to link LUP policies and national mineral policies while others will serve testing purposes. The latter will be based on exercises using digital geological and land use INSPIRE-compliant databases. If data is available, first experiences with 3D spatial planning (e.g. ore body depth) will be conducted. In the frame of Minatura2020 competent institutions collaborated on the 2D modelling of suitable excavation zones using the QUICKScan software. For SAFEMIN, software known to be useful for 2D analysis, e.g. QUICKScan, will be tested to evaluate if it works properly and/or how it can be adapted for 3D spatial analysis so as to identify areas with no or minimal conflict for the safeguarding of mineral resources.
SAFEMIN will maintain a close collaboration with other relevant projects in the field funded by Horizon 2020 in support of the EIP on Raw Materials such as MINATURA2020 (coordinated by MinPol), MICA (Minerals Intelligence Capacity Analysis), MIN-Guide (policy benchmarking of relevant policy and legislation in Europe), MINLEX (permitting study in the EU28), INTMET (innovative metallurgical system to benefit efficiently polymetallic, complex and low grade ores and concentrates), EURare (Sustainable exploitation scheme for Europe's Rare Earth ore deposits). For instance, the MINLEX project (coordinated by MinPol) is a logical connection to SAFEMIN as the advancement towards the integration of the MDoPIs into land use planning will result in simpler permitting procedures. Finalised relevant H2020 projects will also be considered (e.g. Minerals4EU, ProMine, SARMa, EuroGeoSource).
SAFEMIN will be supervised by a pan-european Steering Committee of experts. SAFEMIN will reinforce and expand the team engaged in the Advisory Board of MINATURA2020 which includes representatives from Finland, Sweden, France, Germany, Greece, Poland, Spain, Ireland, Croatia, Czech Republic.
SAFEMIN will help achieving the objectives of the EU Raw Materials Initiative and the EIP on Raw Materials, particularly in terms of improving conditions of access to land with relevance for non-energy minerals extraction. It will disseminate and foster the inclusion of mineral deposits of public importance and mineral potential areas on national mineral and land use planning policies. It is expected that the ongoing work of all partners involved will reinforce the importance of the EU mineral resources for its society and the possible compatibility of extraction areas with other land uses via land use planning processes and sustainable extraction. The actions of SAFEMIN will contribute to bringing mineral resources in parity with other competing land uses.
It is expected that transparent methodologies to identify MdoPIs will be developed for existing or potential mineral resources, allowing incentives and geological evidence to the public authorities for their integration into land use planning plans and national mineral policies. Therefore it is expected that SAFEMIN will facilitate access to land for exploration, contribute to a more efficient permitting procedure and contribute towards making European prospective areas more attractive for investors (mining and quarrying, onshore and offshore).
It is expected that SAFEMIN will promote local capacity building and cooperation of public authorities in charge of minerals extraction and land-use planning as well of other involved authorities. It will also enhance awareness of the importance of European mineral deposits for different authorities. Ultimately, it is expected that SAFEMIN will contribute to the promotion of investments into the minerals sector and increase the sustainable supply from European sources.
Expected innovation outcomes include: i) dialogue, broad dissemination and uptake by land-use planning authorities of concepts associated with the safeguarding of areas containing (or with potential for) non-energy mineral deposits of public importance; ii) transparent digitalized land use planning methodologies based on digital land-use and geological databases, iii) outcomes of tests to involve 2D and 3D spatial analysis of MdoPIs during the land use planning, iv) a strong commitment of national mineral policies (or mineral resource strategies at national or subnational level) to promote the use of land use planning processes as a way to achieve a sustainable mineral supply from European sources, v) an enhancement of the importance and the establishment of a position for MDoPI in land use planning acts as a desired means to improve Europe’s mineral self-supply.
MinPol will: 1) Coordinate all actions within SAFEMIN; 2) Ensure a permanent good communication among all partners, with the European Commission and with external stakeholders; 3) Supervise and guide the organization of meetings and workshops; 4) Delineate framework conditions and recommendations for different best ways of integration of land use planning policies into national mineral policies and their harmonization across European countries