Under the Presidency of Mark Rachovides, The European Association of Mining Industries, Metal Ores & Industrial Minerals (Euromines) is striving to lay to bed assertions of the past to encourage its members about the potential of the future.
Mining in Europe, and indeed across the world, has often come in for criticism but through a strong focus on external industry collaboration and internal optimism, the association is well on its way to changing industry standards and consequently, public perceptions.
Existing as a not-for-profit organisation in its current form since 1996, Euromines represents more than 40 different metals and minerals, more than 100 companies and about 350,000 jobs across its member states, and Rachovides is positive that Europe can become a partner of choice within the mining industry.
“The important thing through what we do is to point out where mining fits in the value chain and to get away from those old stereotypes,” he said. “We need a balanced, responsible approach to keep the value chains in the EU because it won’t contribute to our renaissance or our future if part of the value chain is being sourced outside when we have the ability to do it here.
“We should be doing exploration and mining and processing and supplying to the people that need those raw materials. We can do the whole thing and that should make us the partner of choice because we should be showing ourselves as the leaders in terms of sustainable use of our resources.
“That’s what we want to achieve; to set the standard that’s higher than everyone else.”
Manufacturing in Europe currently accounts for 75 percent of the EU’s exports and many of these manufactured products depend on raw materials. It is figures like these which the Association aims to make clearer to the business world moving forward.
“Europe is surprisingly underexplored and underinvested for exploration, but in terms of technology, we’re very advanced, so we are increasingly developing the ability to mine more complex deposits and have more automated machinery,” Rachovides said. “We ultimately look to a future of state-of-the-art modern mining in Europe.”
The Association is therefore striving, through affiliations with organisations and conferences at high profile events, to start getting that positive industry message across.
This can only come with a collaborative and integrated drive among its members too though, and Rachovides is adamant that all are responsible in that push and none are burying their heads in the sand.
“Most of our members need and do talk more about our good stewardship and the added value that we bring across the spectrum of our activities,” he added. “A lot of the criticisms are the sins of our past and we need to talk more about the virtues of our present and our future.
“Our performance today in Europe speaks for itself. We have excellent health and safety records, very low numbers of fatalities and rank very highly in terms of productivity. We invent a lot of technologies used worldwide because we are constructive, responsible, intelligent people.”
Structured through a series of committees, comprising a decision-making steering committee, a think-tank policy committee, and some more specialised sector committees – environment, health and safety, emission training standards, communication, gold mining and magnesa production – Euromines is set up to be the recognised representative for mining in Europe; a voice and point of reference in relation to the European institutions, and a sounding board for members regarding policy matters and technical issues.
The main goal as a consequence of these ongoing discussions, forums, collaborations with global organisations and monitoring of international trends, is to ensure that the EU maintains and builds upon its position as a responsible and balanced source of minerals.
Complementing the effective stewardship, innovation and people that the EU mining sector can boast is also a wealth of deposit opportunities where the industry can expand its footprint, and this is what Euromines will be smoothing the pathway towards over the coming months and years.
“There is certainly a lot of money in Europe and we also have a tremendous amount of intellectual capital and industrial capital in terms of making and inventing things,” Rachovides concluded.
“If you look at our competitive positioning, we are heavily regulated, have a large population, not a lot of land mass, but still manage to compete in an international market on a company-by-company basis, successfully.
“We’ve dealt with the questions of the past and can now be innovative and adopt competitive solutions to problems of the future.”