Project Background

The strategic importance of raw materials to the EU

Reliable and unhindered access to raw materials is vital for a strong EU economy. The raw materials sector is an important source of growth and jobs in its own right, including in remote areas, but its inputs are essential to numerous other European industries ranging from construction and infrastructure to manufacturing, and many high-tech sectors such as aerospace and renewable energy.

In the last years, growing global demand has led to increased competition for certain minerals and metals, including some difficult or impossible to substitute; this fact, combined with increasingly protectionist policies affecting mineral and metals production and trade, has made guaranteeing a stable supply of raw materials a strategic imperative for the European Union.

Responding to this challenge through the Raw Materials Initiative (RMI)

The Raw Materials Initiative, adopted in 2008 and reinforced in 2011, set out a strategy for tackling the issue of access to raw materials in the EU. This strategy has three pillars which aim to ensure:

  1. Fair and sustainable supply of raw materials from global markets;
  2. Sustainable supply of raw materials within the EU;
  3. Resource efficiency and supply of "secondary raw materials" through recycling.

The strategy covers all raw materials used by European industry except materials from agricultural production and materials used as fuel. In the years since the RMI strategy was announced, a number of related policy decisions, actions, and events with the overarching objective of a secure raw materials supply have been undertaken; while substantial progress has been achieved, there are further opportunities to be seized inside the EU, whose varied geology has the potential to give a greater contribution if the necessary regulatory, financial and technological conditions are met, as well as overseas, via enhanced collaboration and strengthened ties with strategic partners countries.

Responding to this challenge through the Raw Materials Initiative (RMI)

In 2008 the EU adopted the Raw Materials Initiative with the aim of securing a sustainable supply. In the years since the RMI strategy was announced, a number of related policy decisions, actions, and events with the overarching objective of a secure raw materials supply have been undertaken both at the EU and Member State level demonstrating the level of urgency of the challenge. While this initiative has made substantial progress, there are further opportunities to optimize changes that help address EU’s growing concerns.

The role of Canada in the EU’s strategic plan

Canada is one of the closest partners of the EU, as confirmed by the strong economic, political and cultural links and by the recent conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. As one of the most resource-rich countries in the world and a global giant in mineral exploration and mining, Canada is an indispensable partner in the EU raw materials policies. The Canadian metal and mineral industry is a significant driver of economic growth, contributing $57 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2014, which included $24 billion in mineral extraction and $33 billion in mineral processing and manufacturing. An extensive network of mining supply companies has also developed around the sector. More than 3,700 companies supply engineering, geotechnical, environmental, financial and other services to mining operations, and employ an additional 68,000 people. Numerous factors have led to the success of the Canadian mining sector, most notably the stable policy environment the government has built around sustainable mineral development in consultation with industry, and the rigorous and robust environmental and social standards set at both the provincial and federal levels. This ultimately helps provide consistent rules, benefits-sharing, and ensures long-term sustainability of the industry. Canadian companies are expected to operate according to the highest ethical standards also abroad. These expectations were established in the first Corporate Social Responsibility strategy that the Canadian government launched in 2009. Given the maturity of the Canadian mining and metals sector, Canada is a natural strategic partner for the EU on all levels: as a source and destination of investment, a buyer and provider of technologically advanced solutions, and the homeland of a sophisticated and comprehensive approach to social and environmental issues.

The Feasibility Study for the EU-Canada Mineral Investment Facility (MIF)

Within the external dimension of the Raw Materials Initiative and under the wider strategic EU-Canada relationship, this project will deepen the strategic partnership across the non-energy extractive industry in order to strengthen links, enhance the dialogue on social and environmental sustainability, and foster investment and growth in both Canada and the EU.