Securing sustainable access to raw materials, such as metals and industrial minerals, is crucial to achieving the objectives of the The European Green Deal. This is a new growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use. Sustainable use of raw materials, and especially critical raw materials (CRMs) of high importance to the EU economy, is one of the main requirements for this change to take place. The challenge for the extractive industry is to scale up promising innovative production technologies and to demonstrate that raw materials can be extracted sustainably at minimum environmental and social costs.
Reduced negative impacts
Crucial for Europe’s current industries and innovative clean technologies, CRMs are indispensable for the development of low-carbon technologies such as batteries, wind turbines and solar energy. The accomplishments of six Horizon 2020 funded projects, focusing on innovative mineral extraction technologies with improved economic, environmental and health and safety performance, underline the significance of raw materials and the performance of some of the strongest innovators in the extractive industry.
Spotlight on EU research
In this CORDIS Results Pack we focus on the innovative results developed by Horizon 2020 funded projects working on minerals extraction technologies for a sustainable supply of raw materials. For example, bringing together the world’s leading mining companies, universities and technology suppliers, SIMS delivered demonstrators for the electrification and automation of mining equipment, and communication and positioning in mining operations. The project X- MINE facilitated the implementation of large-scale innovative pilot actions of sensing technologies improving the efficiency and sustainability of mining operations. ITERAMS developed solutions for complete isolation of mining process waters from adjacent water systems, and the Blue Nodules project developed new highly automated technologies for the sustainable harvesting and in-situ processing of deep-sea polymetallic nodules. SLIM developed cost-efficient low-impact mining solutions for exploitation based on advanced rock blasting and environmental technologies for minimum rock damage and far-field vibrations. Finally, IMPaCT developed an integrated modular plant and containerised tools for selective, low-impact mining of small high-grade deposits.