CORDIS - EU research results

Developing a concept for a European minerals deposit framework

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MINATURA 2020 (Developing a concept for a European minerals deposit framework )

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2018-01-31

The project was developed recognising the importance of a sustainable supply of mineral raw materials for society and that there may be competing uses of land and the subsurface. Such competing uses may include protection of aquifers for drinking water supply, nature reserves and species habitat protection, agriculture, urban development, protection of cultural heritage and others to name but a few. The deliberation between these diverse land-uses requires adequate consideration of the exclusiveness, reversibility, and consequences to the surrounding physical and socio-economic environment. In many other instances the public is sufficiently sensibilised to the issues at stake, but this is less so for the extraction of mineral raw materials. To this end the project is developing processes to identify and delineate ‘Mineral Resources of Public Importance’ (MDoPI). Such MDoPI may then be integrated into land-use planning processes, where the protection of other resources and assets is already well integrated. The process will also allow to define MDoPI at different levels, ranging from the local/regional to the EU level.

The vision of MINATURA2020 is to make safeguarding of mineral resources a planning variable equal to other safeguarding aspects, such as water resources, biodiversity or natural and cultural heritage. The harmonised processes and procedures under development will be applicable in all EU Member States, which can introduce modifications deemed necessary to satisfy the respective regulatory regime and minerals policy outlooks. It is expected that the project will help to reshape the land-use planning objectives accordingly.
The MINATURA2020 project, a consortium of 24 partners from 19 European countries, is addressing the issue of competing land-uses and seeks to improve planning processes with a view to allow the (future) exploration and development of mineral resources, while respecting the local environment and planning constraints, before, during, and after the extraction of minerals.

MINATURA2020 is developing a strategy to delineate ‘Mineral Deposits of Public Importance’ (MDoPI). Recognising the wide regulatory and socio-cultural diversity across the European Union, this strategy allows Member States to adapt the process to their respective requirements by attributing different weights to the set of criteria chosen, while the overall scheme will be the same for all Member States. This scheme will ensure comparability and transparency of the decision-making process. While there are many occurrences of minerals within the EU, only some of these would be worthsafeguarding. MINATURA2020 is developing a step-wise process that eliminates those occurrences from being designated MDoPI that are too small, where there is a lack of sufficient geological knowledge (quality and quantity) about it, too difficult to mine or process, where other land-use priorities have been set, where information demonstrates that its sustainable exploitation could not provide economic, social or other benefit to the EU, Member States or a region or municipality, etc. This procedure has been developed to be applicable across the EU, while each MS sets its own criteria to govern the process. The procedure is being tested with implementing bodies and is also subject to stakeholder scrutiny. To this end stakeholder workshops are being organised across the EU, which gives stakeholders from all walks of life the opportunity to comment on the concept and the procedure.
In a first step the project collated and reviewed examples (8 case studies) of on-shore and off-shore mapping of mineral resources and potentially competing land-uses. The processes applied currently in MSs to identify zones of potential conflict and conflict-free zones hosting mineral resources were reviewed. Drivers for future land-use changes were investigated and a model presented to predict such changes over a time horizon up to 2050 for the selected case studies. In a second step, the Consortium decided there was a need for a common definition of what can be understood under Mineral Deposit of Public Importance (MDoPI) and agreed upon the following operational definition applicable at different scales (local/regional, national, EU-wide):

“A mineral deposit is of public importance, where information demonstrates that it could provide sustainable economic, social or other benefit to the EU (or the Member States or a specific region/municipality).”

To make the definition applicable at different levels, it was also agreed in the Consortium that three levels for MDoPI should be recognized: MDoPIs at EU level (MDoPI-EU), MDoPIs at country level (MDoPI-CL) and MDoPIs at regional/local level (MDoPI-RL).
The Consortium discussed upon the conditions necessary for a mineral deposit to qualify as MDoPI (‘the qualifying conditions’) and upon different draft procedures (also termed ‘algorithms’) through which identified mineral ocurrences should be evaluated to be classified and designated as MDoPI. It was agreed that the procedure to identify, classify and designate MDoPI should be based on common criteria for all MSs, thus providing for transparency and comparability, but MSs will have enough flexibility to to give different weights to the different variables according to their own local specificities and values.
Based on a bottom-up approach and on the principle of multi-stakeholder involvement, the working definition of MDoPI and the different procedure proposals for MDoPI identification were discussed with different stakeholders in 32 consultation workshops implemented across multiple European countries during the years 2016 and 2017. The feedback of all workshops was different in each Member State, but in general and despite some concerns, confirmed the suitability of the MDoPI working definition. Acknowledging the heterogeneity in availability of geological information and reporting standards, mapping methods and criteria for safeguarding mineral resources across the EU MSs, the Consortium drafted a six steps working proposal for a harmonised mapping framework (HMF). Another result has been the work towards the creation of a ‘Joint Vision’: The European Commission is encouraged to establish a consultation process focusing on the three implementation areas as follows: (1) identification and assessment; (2) specific measures organised under a common minerals strategy framework; and (3) a non-compulsory sustainable development verification process. These could build on Best Practice Exchange established under the Raw Materials Initiative, and other relevant policies and initiatives.

The concept of MDoPIs and their safeguarding has now been widely discussed around many European countries and across multiple stakehoders. This has substantially increased the general knowledge on this concept and increased the visibility of the importance of mineral resources for the general public participating in national stakeholder workshops:
32 national workshops were implemented
Over 500 stakeholders were engaged through the workshops
It is expected that the project outputs will help to reshape land-use planning processes across the EU with a view to ensure the safeguarding access to mineral resources of importance in a complex set of competing land-uses.
MINATURA2020 Final Consortium Meeting, January 2018, Brussels
Stakeholder Workshop Romania, May 2017, Bucharest
Stakeholder consultation in Serbia, April 2016, Privredna komora Srbije, Beograd
Mineral policy and mineral safeguarding in Europe. Source: Minatura2020 D3.2
Third MINATURA2020 Brochure, published August 2017
Screen shots of QUICKSCan. Mineral resource constraints in the Norrbotten area, Sweden.
MINATURA2020´s team at Kick off meeting (Vienna, February 2015)