The path towards sustainable sourcing of critical raw materials
in the EU

An integrated approach for extraction in protected areas

Supporting the EU in achieving the goals outlined in its energy transition and climate change agenda

Creating a policy framework for responsible mining

At CIRAN, our goal is to identify processes that enable balancing economic stability and critical raw materials (CRMs) supply security with social well-being and environmental conservation priorities across the EU. We aim to create a policy framework for responsible domestic mining that aligns European strategic objectives with social and environmental constraints at the local level.

The EU must reduce its dependence on other countries for CRMs supply to mitigate the risk of disruptions

Mining is essential to supply the raw materials needed for the EU’s digital and green transition

Critical raw materials (CRMs) are resources essential to the economy but with high supply risks. As Europe transitions to climate neutrality, due to their importance in the manufacturing of clean energy technologies, demand for CRMs has increased. However, the recent souring of International Relations has proven that the EU must reduce its dependence on imported CRMs. To do this, the EU will therefore have to develop new domestic sources in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. This requires building trustworthy frameworks that address public concerns about mining impacts.

Europe’s climate goals, as exemplified by initiatives such as the Green Deal and Circular Economy Action Plan, require a fresh approach that includes responsible mining of CRMs even within environmentally protected areas.

Land-use planning through consensus

In response to the EU’s sustainably mined CRM needs, we will access best practices  for mineral extraction within environmentally protected areas. Our team will thoroughly examine 15 relevant case studies, incorporating insights from experts and stakeholders. This approach encompasses economic, environmental, and social dimensions, creating a comprehensive foundation to facilitate meaningful dialogues between experts and local communities.

Despite the progress made by EU policies in enhancing nature protection and climate resilience, there remains a pressing need for greater collaboration in land-use practices. To address this, we will propose a comprehensive framework designed to integrate well-informed demand forecasts. This framework will also incorporate a co-creation process for modern social contract models, which will delineate the rights, obligations, and responsibilities of both national and regional governments and the communities impacted by mining activities within protected areas.

For us, interdisciplinarity is essential in achieving our objectives. To accomplish this, we will establish a permanent Forum that connects stakeholders involved in nature conservation and in responsible mining, such as managers of protected areas, NGOs, regional and local authorities, industry associations and geological surveys . Our aim is to build a long-lasting community dedicated to enhancing the overall governance of natural resources.