Reliable and unhindered access to raw materials is vital to a strong European Union (EU) economy. The mining and metals sector is an important source of growth and jobs in its own right, including in remote areas, but its outputs are essential to several other European industries ranging from construction and infrastructure to manufacturing – and many high-tech sectors such as aerospace and renewable energy.
Competition for raw materials continues to rise in the face of growing global demand. To ensure security of supply in the future, the EU created The Raw Materials Initiative (RMI).
Adopted in 2008 and reinforced in 2011, the strategy has influenced a number of policy decisions, actions and events with the overarching objective of a securing raw materials.
Now, the next phase involves a new opportunity for Canada.
Canada already shares strong economic, political and cultural ties with the EU and, with the recent conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), is one of the closest allies to the region. And, as one of the most resource-rich countries in the world and a global giant in mineral exploration and mining, it’s only natural that Canada be considered a partner to the EU in raw materials policies.
In January 2017, under the frameworks of the RMI and the Partnership Instrument (a funding instrument for activities that carry EU agendas with partner countries forward), the EU commissioned a study by EY to design and assess the feasibility of a strategic platform to promote a more structured co-operation between Canada and the EU across the Non- Energy Extractive Industries (NEEI) value chain.
The focus of the study is to identify areas of collaboration between the areas that would have the most influence on the investment framework, investments flows and business links.
- Exchange of good practices in view of an enhanced minerals policy framework and regulatory structure leading to a sound investment climate.
- Improved public awareness and understanding of the importance of the sector to increase social acceptance at regional and national levels.
- Accelerated collaboration between Canada and European countries in research and innovation in new mining technologies and sustainable mining practices.
Each collaboration area reflects the Canadian and EU experience in the NEEI and has been informed by extensive research and consultation with stakeholders in the EU, the Member States and Canada, public institutions, mining and equipment associations, mining consulting and services companies, financial institutions, geological surveys and academia.
The strategies are also aligned with recommendations in the Study on the Competitiveness of the EU Primary and Secondary Mineral Raw Materials Sectors, published in January 2015 and funded by the European Commission, and the relevant issues of mutual interest that are formally recognized in Article 25.4 on Bilateral Dialogue on Raw Materials of CETA.
Canada and the EU stand to benefit enormously from formal co-operation across the NEEI value chain. Both areas share common values and the goal of creating sustainable and responsible mining practices that enable fair economic growth. For Canada, this means increased mining and exploration opportunities in the EU. The EU will benefit from increased domestic production of raw materials in line with RMI objectives.
The proposed collaboration areas are currently being reviewed by policy makers in the EU and Canada. Final recommendations will be shared with stakeholders and interested participants at the EU Mining Day at the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention held in March in Toronto. What comes after will hopefully be a leading partnership characterized by openness and transparency, co-operation and ideas exchange, and the united pursuit of a sustainable, responsible and healthy mining sector.
JAY BAILEY is Senior Manager in EY Canada’s Advisory Services Practice. He is based in Vancouver.
For more information on the EY study, join EU-Canada for two events at PDAC 2018: EU-Canada Mineral Investment Seminar on March 4 at 4:00 p.m. and EU-Canada Exploration & Mining Day on Mar 6. For more information, visit www.pdac.ca/convention.