Mattia Pellegrini, who is Head of Unit, Raw materials, Metals, Minerals and Forest-based industries at the European Commission Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry, visited LKAB and Kiruna at the beginning of June.
After spending 24 hours in Kiruna, what are your impressions?
What I have seen at LKAB is what we call sustainable mining and that is something very impressive. I think LKAB is a good example of how the EU can secure its supply of raw materials as an alternative to the major iron ore players on the global market.
Competitiveness is important, not only for the EU, but also for LKAB. What can the EU do to strengthen competitiveness within the raw materials sector?
The EU has now, for the first time, ring-fenced targeted resources for research and innovation within the raw materials sector. One of the things we are working on is to get legal systems in place that promote mining. We see a need to review the application of Natura 2000, which varies within the EU. We are also exchanging experiences of “best practice” and, finally, we have created a platform where we bring together experts from industry, academia and the legislature – the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials (EIP) – which LKAB, among others, is a part of.
In 2008, the EU saw the need for a coordinated plan for the supply of raw materials – so it drew up the raw materials initiative. What do you hope will be achieved by 2018?
I hope that every Member State will have adopted a national minerals policy. Through the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials (EIP), we hope to establish 10 pilot facilities in order to build the technology of the future for both mining and recovery.
What are the biggest challenges?
The industry’s image. There are a lot of organisations that want to see an end to mining, but what they forget is that we need raw materials for green technology, new energy technology and new digital technology. The EU has also neglected raw materials issues for many years. Now we need to build up our expertise again. Finally, we need greater knowledge of the raw material assets and opportunities available within the EU.
When will you be paying your next visit to Kiruna?
I am working to have an EIP meeting held in Kiruna soon.