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Debunking the myth of Germany being a country poorly endowed in high technology raw materials

For several decades, there has been a widely accepted paradigm that „Germany is rich in poor ore deposits“. This paradigm was communicated with conviction especially by experts, i.e. geoscientists active in the raw materials sector. And, indeed, this paradigm appeared well justified as the known endowment of Germany in bulk commodities such as iron, manganese or copper was small in resource tonnage and of too low grade in comparison to world-class deposits in countries such as Australia, South Africa or Chile. Yet, from today’s perspective there are some sound arguments why this paradigm may be outdated. Tangible reasons include (a) a marked shift in the portfolio of mineral commodities that are in the focus of a global raw materials industry that needs to generate the supply needed to meet the ambitious goals of the energy transition sensu lato; (b) the almost complete lack of modern mineral exploration across most of Germany for more than 30 years – and thus a sincere lack of knowledge about mineral endowment in the subsurface environment; (c) the well-recognised need to render global mineral exploration and production more sustainable. These arguments, combined with the well-known exceptional mineral endowment of regions such as the Erzgebirge or the Kupferschiefer basin across central and south-eastern Germany provide motivation to revise the widely held paradigm. Germans should, indeed, today be regarded as a highly prospective and attractive exploration frontier located in the heart of Europe.


Jens Gutzmer1
1Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, Germany
GeoMinKöln 2022