Senior Associate at Swann’s London office, Dominic Mercer, attended the SNL Metals and Mining breakfast in London on the 6th December, 2016. The breakfast was an opportunity for industry professionals to meet and discuss the trends in the EU’s supply of raw materials and strategies to sharpen the region’s competitiveness.
The panel discussion, mediated by Dr. Chris Hinde, Director of Reports at SNL Metals & Mining, looked at what factors are affecting a stable supply of minerals and how the EU can provide solutions to boost domestic exploration investment from an operational, regulatory and policy perspective. Panellists included Dr. David Humphreys, Honorary Lecturer at the Centre for Energy, Al Gourley, Partner and Head of Mining Practice Group at Fasken Martineau and Corina Hebestreit, Director of the European Association of Mining Industries, Metal Ores & Industrial Minerals (Euromines).
Dominic noted the point raised by Hebestreit, who recommended that mining companies should consider using local talent to lead their subsidiaries and mine developments within European countries in order to facilitate community interaction with a foreign company. Another topic raised was the disproportionate public acceptance of pronouncements from Non-Governmental Organisations over presentations by mining companies that were based on solid scientific and economic fact.
David Humphreys reflected on his interaction with the European Commission over a number of years as the representative of mining companies. His experience indicated that the EC generally viewed mining through an environmental lens, rather than approaching the industry from a neutral standpoint.
Humphreys further observed that with continued mineral exploration, future economically-exploitable deposits could be found, but an encouraging investment environment needed to be established. Corina Hebestreit noted that her organisation, Euromines, was in discussion with European member states on this topic, while Al Gourley cautioned that regulatory regimes varied dramatically from state to state, and a standard template for companies to present their information to individual states would be helpful. Dr. Chris Hinde suggested that speeding up licencing and permitting timeframes would help to encourage more companies to invest in Europe rather than other jurisdictions around the world.
Hebestreit reminded the audience that there are competing priorities for the use of land within the European Union, and more specifically of the existence of the EC’s Natura 2000 programme, which seeks to identify and protect sites of importance to threatened species and habitats. Acknowledging the justification for the Natura programme, Hebestreit outlined the work of a three-year initiative launched last year – MINATURA2020 – which aims to develop the concept and methodology for the definition and subsequent protection of minerals deposits of public importance. Thus the future minerals needs of European society would be part of the conversation on land use.
S&P Global Market Intelligence is a lead partner for a consulting project with the STRADE Consortium. This project (2016-2018) is funded by the Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Union to bring together practical experience, legislation, best practice technologies and know-how to strengthen the European raw-materials sector.