North Sweden European Office arranged a seminar on "Sustainable Mining in the Arctic Region' October 21 in Brussels highlightening the Regional Strategy for Mineral Extraction in Norrbotten and Västerbotten prepared in line with Sweden's mineral strategy and the EU:s Raw Materials Initiative.
County Governor Mr. Sven-Erik Österberg, County Administrative Board of Norrbotten, County Governor Mrs. Magdalena Andersson, County Administrative Board of Västerbotten, and Mr. Jörgen Niemann, Business Strategist, Region Västerbotten (who participated on behalf of Erik Bergkvist, President), gave the opening speeches and presented the ongoing work on the regional strategy for mineral extraction of Norrbotten and Västerbotten. Topics addressed were sustainable mining in northern Sweden, the conditions for the mining industry in the harsh arctic climate, the EU's policy for raw materials and the challenges and opportunities for the mining industries. Interventions were presented by keynote speakers from the European Commission, authorities, industry, universities and other European organizations.
Regional strategy for sustainable mineral extraction in Norrbotten and Västerbotten
The "Regional strategy for sustainable mineral extraction in Norrbotten and Västerbotten" comprises part of the counties' overall strategies for regional development and growth and is being prepared in line to Sweden's mineral strategy. The objective is to contribute to economic growth in Norrbotten and Västerbotten, and also elsewhere in Sweden and Europe. To achieve this objective, several measures are required. In addition, the strategy proposes measures and concrete activities that will contribute to the implementation of Sweden's and the EU's objectives and the regional strategy's vision. During the public consultation, the Swedish government, governmental authorities, the industry, municipalities, organizations, universities and other organizations submitted proposals for measures to be implemented in the areas e.g. RTDI, planning, land use, training and education as well as environmental issues. The strategy provides guidance for players who in various ways aim to contribute to the implementation of the proposed measures.
Sweden's Mineral Strategy
Bengt Wennerstein, Industry Counsellor at the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU, highlighted in his intervention the importance for Sweden to have a comprehensive approach to how mining can grow with the opportunities that exist. Sweden’s mineral strategy aims to facilitate economic growth and is prepared along the sustainable use of Sweden's mineral resources in harmony with the environment, nature and culture. Sweden's mineral strategy sets up measures that will contribute to consolidate Sweden's position as Europe's leading mining and mineral nation. Strengthening the international competitiveness of the Swedish mining and metals operations requires cooperation between mining and recycling industry, subcontractors and universities.
Dan Andrée at VINNOVA, Sweden's Innovation Agency, presented the agency’s RTD for the strategic area Production, Materials and Natural Resources. Andrée put focus in his presentation on how Vinnova can participate as a partner and co-financier in future programs for research and innovation for mining in Sweden. Andrée highlighted the research program running 2013-2016 and the conditions of the raw materials industry in Northern Sweden. As an example, he emphasized the important role of LTU worldwide as a leading technical univrsity in the minerals and metallurgy and also ICT areas and how the mining industry becomes more and more attractive to young men and women.
EU strategy for raw material
Anne Auffret at the European Commission's Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry, presented the Raw Materials Initiative, which consists of three pillars: - fair and sustainable supply of raw materials from global markets, - sustainable supply within the EU and - increasing resource efficiency and recycling. Auffret also highlighted the European Innovation Partnership on raw materials (EIP RM) and raw materials as part of the EU Horizon 2020 program and the four flagship initiatives: - Industrial policy for the globalization era, - The Agenda for new skills and jobs, - A Resource-efficient Europe and Innovation Union.
Glória Nunes Rodrigues at the European Commission Directorate-General Education and Culture, highlighted in her presentation the EIT (European Institute of Innovation and Technology) and the KICs (Knowledge and Innovation Communities) as tools to e.g. create links and relationships between education, research and business. One of the new KICs initiated in 2014, has a focus on raw materials and this will be an important prerequisite for the Swedish mining to capitalize on.
LKAB and Boliden - an industry perspective on the mining industry
LKAB's Goran Bäckblom focused in his intervention on how the mining industry's impact on regional growth in Norrbotten, with empahsize put on the relationship between the global population growth and the need for mining and recycling of raw materials to accommodate the demand for steel. LKAB in Norrbotten is in many ways focused on sustainability and regional growth.
Boliden Group was represented by Pierre Heeroma, Director Group Strategy & Business Development, who shared experiences and lessons learned in sustainable mining. Heeroma highlighted Rönnskär outside Skelleftehamn, the world leader in copper smelter for raw materials recycling. Rönnskär has an annual capacity to recycle 120,000 tonnes of metal debris in the form of e.g. electronic scrap. It is mainly raw materials like gold, silver and copper recovered in the plant.
For continued development of the mining operation
Jenny Greberg and Mary Magdalene Holmgren from Luleå University of Technology (LTU) gave the academic perspective on mining in the Arctic region. LTU operates through a strategic research and innovation agenda for the Swedish mining and metallurgy industry (STRIM). The 2030 objectives of the Agenda are to create innovative research, find safe and efficient mining methods, develop effective mineral processing, recycling and metallurgy, environmental assurance and environmental engineering as well as attractive workplaces with gender and technology included.
Ulf Wiberg, Professor of Economic Geography at Umeå University, presented in his intervention the socioeconomic impacts of the mining operations on regional development in Northern Sweden. He emphasized the importance of creating opportunities for local job markets in order to counteract the "fly in-fly out '-pattern of employment in the northern regions. One of the methods and essential prerequisite to create better conditions in smaller municipalities is cooperation and dialogue between mining companies and the local communities in planning matters to help attract workers to reside in the district or municipality.
Raymond van Ermen, President of the European Partners for the Environment (EPE), presented the work with Covenant2022, a Raw Materials Commitment (RMC) between regions and cities in the framework of the European Innovation Partnership in raw materials (EIP RM). The goal of the RMC is to increase the long-term innovation capacity of the EU's commodity sector and to transform it into a strong pillar of the EU economy, at the same time addressing societal challenges. The RMC will contribute to fulfil the objectives of the SIP - Strategic Implementation Plan for the EIP RM.
In an international perspective also contributed Wiktor Kowalczyk who is the president of "The Lower Silesian Mining Cluster" in southern Poland. Kowalczyk presented how the region works with the EU's "Smart Specialization" in mining in Poland.
Presentations of the speakers
Bengt Wennerstein, The Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU
Dan Andrée, Vinnova - Sweden's innovation agency
Anne Auffret, the European Commission's Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry
Glória Nunes Rodrigues, the European Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture
Göran Bäckblom, LKAB
Pierre Heeroma, Boliden
Ulf Wiberg, Umeå University
Raymond van Ermen, European Partners for the Environment
Wiktor Kowalczyk, the Lower Silesian Mining Cluster
The seminar attracted participants from European institutions, European bransch organisations, universities and region offices.
For more information please contact Mona Mansour, Senior Adviser, North Sweden European office.