By electrification we cut carbon emissions, resulting in new challenges elsewhere. Most critical raw materials come from mines and demand is growing. There is a lot work to be done in metal recycling.
The world’s population is growing. People are moving to urban centers, and as a result the construction industry is impacted. We need more raw materials, and at the same time the world is battling climate change. When switching from fossil fuels to renewables, massive energy storage in batteries is required. Current battery technology is still highly dependent on metals. When using electrification to lower carbon emissions and combat climate change, we create even more need for batteries and mining. There is a broad discussion about the circular economy, and the results so far are modest: In Europe only 12 % of raw materials are recycled. Over 70 % of the materials excavated from mines end-up as waste. We must use raw materials more efficiently and greatly improve mineral recycling. Xplorer network unites different stakeholders, to make this systemic change possible.
Europe wants to be carbon neutral. It also wants to separate economic growth from raw material consumption.
European Green Deal is the European Commission’s ambitious growth strategy. It wants to convert Europe to be carbon neutral by 2050. Europe wants to be the first carbon neutral continent and to demonstrate examples and best technologies to others. Sustainable growth requires, however, that we separate consumption of raw materials from economic growth. At the moment the bond is tight, and economic growth often goes hand-in-hand with damaging environmental implications.
Many raw materials are imported into Europe. It is also a risk to be so dependent on raw material imports, because global logistics chains are vulnerable for many reasons. The European Commission established the 2020 European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA), which supports European growth, competition and access to raw materials. ERMA is coordinated by EIT Raw Materials, the world’s biggest education and innovation consortium in the raw materials’ sector.
Finland is an interesting mining country, but people are worried about the environmental damage caused by mining. Will mines ever be able to operate ecologically and sustainably?
Finland’s relationship with nature is unique, and our clean waterways and air are the basis of our wellbeing. Civil debate often portrays mining as exploitative capitalism, an industry which spoils nature and leaves behind long-term damages.
Citizens’ initiatives demand more restrictions for the mining sector and want to grant better decision-making power to municipalities and land owners.