Securing sustainable access to raw materials, including metals, industrial minerals and construction raw materials, and particularly critical raw materials (CRM), is of huge importance to the European economy, where at least 30 million jobs depend on the availability of raw materials. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the importance of digital transformation.
At its September plenary, and at a crucial moment for the implementation of the Green Deal and the EU recovery plan, the EESC adopted an own-initiative opinion on Digital Mining in Europe: New solutions for the sustainable production of raw materials.
In the opinion, the EESC recommends the digitalisation of the EU raw materials sector as a unique opportunity to enhance the resilience of European industrial supply chains, to improve the environmental performance of the minerals sector and to increase transparency and dialogue with citizens and communities affected by mining activities.
The rapporteur for the opinion Marian Krzaklewski said: ''The digital transformation of the mining sector requires an ambitious effort to enact legal and regulatory changes, and that effort should be made under the umbrella of supranational organisations and at international law level''.
The EESC points out the importance of having a global, comprehensive minerals intelligence network to underpin the digital transformation and informed decision-making at EU level. The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is developing and maintaining a European raw materials information system, which is acknowledged by the EESC.
The EESC believes that the EU and the Member States must actively support the digital transformation of the EU mining sector. This is a crucial step in increasing the resilience of the EU industry and the raw materials value chain. Mines using digital technologies, including integrated automation, cognitive networks and real-time analytics, are more efficient, clean and safe. Reduced environmental footprints and safer environments are easier to achieve in "smart mines", and this is crucial to getting the "social licence" to operate in Europe. (ks)