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Building a mineral-based value chain in Europe: the balance between social acceptance and secure supply

Author

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  • António Mateus

    (Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
    Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa)

  • Luís Martins

    (Cluster Portugal Mineral Resources)

Abstract

During the last years, the industry directly involved in the production and transformation of mineral raw materials in the EU has been responsible for ca. 40% of the value added associated with downstream manufacturing sectors, engaging more than 3 million of job positions. However, the EU is a net importer of ores along with a large diversity of metals and other mineral-derived products, including many of those involved in high-technology applications. This dependency makes the EU economy quite vulnerable to supply disruptions or other market fluctuations impacting the global supply chain for mineral raw materials. Ultimately, persistent shortages in supply represent serious bottlenecks to various economic activities running in the EU, jeopardising a significant number of jobs and many lines of the political agenda for the intended model of sustainable development. To overcome this potential weakness, a European mineral-based value chain emerges as a logical solution, particularly if designed along with a coherent scenario of re-industrialisation, research and development, technological innovation, continuous training of a high-qualified workforce, and internal investments prioritisation. In this context, the existing interlinks between activities related to the mining life cycle and the product life cycle in the EU must be revisited and transformed. The main drivers for these changes are (i) technological advances related to accelerated transitions towards digitisation, automation, and a low-carbon economy; (ii) societal, requiring higher fairness and increasing levels of transparency and proficiency from both the authorities and industry players; and (iii) relieving the reliance on imports of critical mineral raw materials.

Suggested Citation

  • António Mateus & Luís Martins, 2021. "Building a mineral-based value chain in Europe: the balance between social acceptance and secure supply," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 34(2), pages 239-261, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:minecn:v:34:y:2021:i:2:d:10.1007_s13563-020-00242-3
    DOI: 10.1007/s13563-020-00242-3
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