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Τετάρτη, 7 Μαρτίου 2012

Greek Ministry of Environment and Climate Change: National Policy for the Exploitation of Mineral Resources



The adequacy of Mineral Raw Materials (MRM) is a prerequisite for the sustainable function, prosperity and progress of modern societies. All aspects of the daily life, growth, progress and protection of the environment depend essentially on the availability of the MRM. The affordable MRM and the reliable and environmentally safe access to them are of paramount importance for the sound functioning of the economy both at European and global level. Such fields as constructions, chemical products, car manufacture, energy and renewable sources of energy, high technology electric appliances and electronics etc. depend decisively on the availability of the MRM.

Based on the characteristics of the global economy, in particular those of the last decade, it is expected that the demand for MRM will continue to grow faster mostly because of the increased in the consumption level in the fast developing economies of China, India, South-Eastern Asia, Latin America and Russia. Today, it is clear that meeting the needs of a society for MRM in a sustainable way presupposes a concrete strategy whose main pillar is a targeted policy for the exploitation of its mineral resources

The role of the extractive industry is to satisfy a great number of these fast increasing needs. Nonetheless, the great demand for minerals, the specificities of the extractive activity to be undertaken exclusively in areas where there are deposit sites, the global environmental issues affecting the social impact of the activity, the multiple barriers that hinder access to them and are accentuated by the competition with other land uses and the imposition of restrictive measures or distortions in the international trade in conjunction with geopolitical interests, demonstrate the need for applying best sustainable practices for MRM research exploration and exploitation, strategies for the promotion of their efficient use and recycling and land-use planning policies focused on ores on for minerals.

In particular, with regard to the European Union (EU), the demand for raw materials is much higher than the respective production. As a result, the EU is fully or greatly dependant on the raw materials imports. Any disruption in the timely and on-going supply of the European market may affect its economy and its growth rate adversely.

Therefore, the EU has already undertaken initiatives to address the issue of the short and long-term availability of the necessary mineral resources actively. In this context, through its communication COM2008/699 “The raw materials initiative — meeting our critical needs for growth and jobs in Europe” (Raw Materials Initiative - RMI) to the European Parliament and the Council, the European Commission raised once again the issue of the shift to an economy based on a more efficient utilization of the European MRM under ‘sustainable’ conditions for both the deposits and the environment while stressing the need for securing a reliable and undistorted access of the EU to the third countries raw materials of the international market.

More specifically, the successful implementation of the second pillar of the European  Raw Materials Initiative “Fostering sustainable supply of raw materials from European resources” requires from the Member States to plan their respective national policies with the objective of ensuring smooth access to the EU raw material deposits and sound production of the MRM that may be extracted from these deposits.

To this end, the European Commission suggests the adoption of indicators (the European Commission Feb 2011 Communication “Tackling the challenges in commodity markets and on raw materials”  that will enable the Member States to map the implementation course of best practices, as formulated by the respective ad hoc Working Group, which was set up within the framework of the implementation of the second pillar of the RMI.

Also, the dialogue between European institutions, Member States and stakeholders about the development of a specific policy aiming at creating a Europe free of the pressing need to find huge quantities or resources (raw and other materials) in order to support the growth of its members is underway. The suggested policy is defined as a ‘Resource Efficiency’ and its main objective is to optimize the use of resources in all EU productive activities and thus reduce essentially the needs in the primary production of raw materials, reduce waste, protect the environment and improve the quality of life.

The Greek extractive industry is an important sector of our country’s economic activity providing the necessary raw materials to a number of fields that are essential for the national economy, such as power  generation, cement and aluminium industry, constructions and construction materials industry etc. Also, it is a highly extroverted field since its exports account for 65% of its total sales, which makes it an important production link both at the European and the international market.

In the above context, to respond to the situation and the modern needs, the Greek State developed, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change executives and productive, professional and scientific bodies (Greek Mining Enterprises Association, Institute of Geology - Mineral Exploration and Survey, Technical Chamber of Greece, Geo-Technical Chamber of Greece) the main axes, the necessary directions and policies and the specialized actions required by a National Policy (NP) for the sustainable exploitation of the national mineral resources aiming at harmonizing the policy for the MRM with the principle of sustainable development and its coupling with the remaining the other national sectoral policies.
[by Tzeferis Peter]