A special chapter on the subject of Critical and Strategic Raw Materials has been included in the revised draft of the ESEK.
A special chapter on the issue of Critical and Strategic Raw Materials has been included in the revised draft of the ESEK (which has entered the “microscope” of Brussels), reflecting their importance for the energy transition, but also the increased emphasis that Greece seeks to give in the exploitation of the potential deposits located in its subsoil.
As stated in ESEK, “On Greek territory and within Public Mining Areas (PMAs) in which the mining right belongs to the State, more than 15 raw materials have been identified that are included in the List of Strategic and Critical Mineral Raw Materials of the European Union, such as bauxite, phosphorite, barite, antimony, nickel, cobalt, magnesium, silicon, tungsten, graphite, platinum group metals, gallium, germanium, manganese, copper and some (light) rare earths.
However, the existing ore potential that has been recorded requires on the one hand an update, on the other hand a new targeted research, either to increase the added value of the already recorded targets within the Public Mining Areas, or to discover new “targets”, both primary (deposits) and secondary with national and/or European strategic importance.
In order to ensure the supply of the necessary mineral raw materials that will feed the energy transition industry, Greece is preparing a road map with two axes of priorities with a horizon of 2030: a) Mining Research and b) Utilization of the already recorded mining potential, through the initiation of tender procedures for the granting of research and exploitation rights, as well as complementary interventions at policy level. What is sought is the sustainable exploitation of the deposits, the reduction of the licensing time, the attraction of investments and the inclusion of the benefit for the local communities.
As far as public mining research is concerned, the competent body (EAGME) is currently investigating the areas within the Public Mining Area of Cimmeria Xanthi, while the area of western Samos has also been reserved for lithium research. Private research is carried out in the areas of Oitis Parnassos Gionas for bauxite and in the area of Molae Laconia for Zinc, Silver, Gallium and Germanium, within leased Public Mining Areas
The Ministry of Environment and Energy has prioritized the identification of new areas for exploitation, which requires the updating and completion of the registration of the potential of TMFs to be exploited in order to distinguish those that can be considered mature and put, as a matter of priority, in a tender process for their leasing to interested individuals.
The supply and adequacy of Critical and Strategic Raw Materials is a major European issue due to the particularly high dependence of European industry on third countries (EU imports for most metals range from 75–100% of its needs) and the high supply risk due to global competition. In this context, Brussels has prioritized the adoption of the Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMs Act) which will be the most specific institutional framework for addressing the issues of safe and sustainable access to critical and strategic raw minerals materials.
The individual quantitative targets of the Regulation are: the annual consumption of strategic-critical raw materials within the EU should come by 2030 by 10% from mining, by 15% from recycling and by 40-50% from processing of primary materials (for secondary production of final products) as a minimum. It is also provided that the maximum dependence on imports from a third country will not exceed 65% for each strategic mineral raw material and at any relevant stage of processing.
Finally, it is recalled that last summer, the European Union invited aluminum (such as MYTILINEOS) and zinc producers to investigate the production margins of gallium (a by-product of the production of alumina and aluminum from bauxite) and germanium, following China’s announcement to limit exports. According to estimates, it is possible under certain conditions to cover a large part of the EU’s gallium needs, if it becomes possible to utilize the gallium contained in the Greek bauxite. This implies the use of European financial tools in this direction, which according to information has been put on the floor in the so-called “trilogue”, i.e. the ongoing negotiations between national governments, the Commission and the European Parliament on the CRM Regulation.