There is good potential for a more integrated and competitive Nordic minerals ecosystem that can play a significant role in enabling a green transition in for example energy and transport. At the same time, the Nordic countries steer towards reduced environmental and climate impact from the minerals sector and can take a lead in sustainable mineral and metal production internationally.
The Nordics both produce, process and utilize a multitude of mineral raw materials, and need them for the transition to low-carbon future. The Nordic region can through value chain collaborations build on complementary resources and skills.
The required ambitious climate action and green transition globally and at the European and Nordic levels cannot be achieved without minerals and metals. Minerals are key enablers and necessary raw materials for low-carbon technologies in energy and transport.
According to the World Bank, to meet the growing demand for the green energy technologies, the demand for certain minerals could increase by nearly 500% by 2050. Even those minerals whose relative demand increases are smaller are still going to face large increases in absolute demand (World Bank, 2020).
Mineral and metal raw materials are also essential to the functioning and integrity of a wide range of clean and digital industrial ecosystems (European Commission, 2020), to infrastructure development, to construction and buildings, as well as to clean consumer technologies. In the Nordic countries, work is already underway to steer towards reduced environmental and climate impact from the minerals sector. With collaboration across
sectors and a diverse range of partnerships and stakeholders, transition towards sustainable production, use and reuse of minerals can be accelerated.
The program is one of eight initiatives lunched by the five Nordic ministers of trade and industry. The initiatives represent a determined advance towards a stronger and more sustainable Nordic region and support the vision for the Nordic region to be the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030.
The program supports the global, European, and Nordic green transition, efforts towards carbon neutrality as well as digitalization of economy by taking a lead in socially, economically and environmentally sustainable minerals and mining sector, with reduced climate impact in production. A sustainable minerals sector must proactively ensure social responsibility as well as strategic community and stakeholder involvement.
As stated by the European Commission, metals, minerals, and natural materials are part of our daily lives. Further, those materials that are most important economically and have a high supply risk are called critical raw materials.
A Nordic Critical Raw Material Resilience aims to highlight the conditions and needs that are special for the Nordic region in the light of the green transition.
Traceability, and development of common methods to improve metal and mineral statistics with regards to the lifecycle of metals is important for the industry. It is also important to investigate how a similar system can be created with reserves and assets that the exploration industry uses to assess quantities and economics in for example mining waste.
Also, it is vital to create a systematic classification method to evaluate secondary resources as comparison to primary resources. Recovery and recycling are central for the sustainability. Circular economy thinking encourages companies in collaboration and exchange of experience to stimulate economically competitive techniques and methods for increased metal recycling.
Building credibility and creating business value through transparency and traceability supports collaboration for sustainable material supply. Furthermore, enables Nordic development of a brand as well as business models for benefit for the companies in the Nordic mineral ecosystem.
The Nordic countries will not achieve transformative change by acting alone. A Nordic approach to sustainable minerals will support and contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the 2030 Agenda and work to strengthen the ambitions of EU Green Deal. It will also allow for ecosystem partners to take part in the Horizon Europe missions.