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Towards a green future – Where is the critical raw material resource potential in Europe?

The “Green Future”; a concept of desirable European climate-neutral living conditions, which is the goal of the EU Green Deal means a huge increase in the use of mineral raw materials. Minerals are an essential component for many of today’s rapidly growing clean energy technologies – from wind turbines and electricity networks to electric vehicles. But ensuring that these and other key technologies can continue to rely on sufficient mineral supplies to support the acceleration of clean energy transitions is a significant and often-ignored challenge. As an example, the frequency of new discoveries has fallen even with a significant increase in exploration budgets. Between 2007 and 2016, ~54B€ were spent for a return of 25B€ of gold - an unsustainable exercise! Therefore, a new way of approaching mineral exploration must be adopted and traditional methods of exploring for greenfield mineral deposits need to be rethought to cushion this trend. The need to bring these deposits faster on-line in the value chains of the circular economy, and the transformation into green technology items, needs modern and updated tools. Data integration and geographic information system (GIS) based analyses, which can improve exploration and detection of mineral deposits in Europe and elsewhere, are among those tools. However, the use of new exploration techniques needs to be allied with new geological, geochemical, geophysical, and drilling data and, most importantly, access to the territory to evidence Europe’s new mineral potential.


Daniel P. de Oliveira1,2
1Laboratório Nacional de Energia e Geologia (LNEG), Portugal; 2Mineral Resources Expert Group, EuroGeoSurveys, Brussels, Belgium
GeoKarlsruhe 2021