1. For the climate
The result of COP21 in Paris was unequivocal – greenhouse gas emissions must decrease. In many areas, the solution is spelled electrification. Climate-smart electric vehicles are now making rapid entry into the industry. Especially in underground mines, there are also direct benefits to health and safety through increased electrification.
This development requires new, more and more powerful batteries. Demand is huge for cobalt, lithium, graphite and vanadium. But where should the raw materials for all these batteries come from? And how should they be produced?
Furthermore, it is far from only batteries that require metals and minerals. A growing population and millions of people who are about to get out of poverty mean that the need for iron and base metals is increasing in many parts of the world.
Sweden has great natural resources, technical know-how and has a political ambition to take the lead in the transition to a climate-neutral welfare state. The Environmental Goals Committee has established in the country’s long-term climate target that in 2045 Sweden will not have any net emissions of CO2.
But even more important for Swedish climate policy is to reduce global emissions and that Sweden’s exports should make more global climate benefit than imports do climate damage. That is, the goal should be that Swedish exports should contribute to reducing emissions in other countries more than imports cause increased emissions in other countries.
The Swedish mining industry is far ahead internationally with its climate-smart production. Emissions to air and water have dropped gradually and are today one of the most climate-efficient in the world. Therefore, it must be given good conditions to continue contributing to reduced global emissions by supplying the world market with both climate-smart metals and environmentally smart technology.
In short, higher production in Sweden means a global climate benefit.
2. For employment and social benefit
The mining industry is a major employer today. In addition to direct employment, it creates a significant number of local jobs through the mining companies’ purchasing of services and materials. The resulting growth in economic activity generates yet more jobs in businesses that are not directly linked to the mines but are necessary for a vibrant community. One job in the mining industry creates 1.8 indirect jobs at the subcontractor level. Together, they in turn provide jobs in industries that are not directly linked to mines; grocery stores, restaurants, cultural and sports life, that are needed in vibrant communities. In other words, the mining industry keeps Sweden alive—both at the local level and by contributing to the entire country’s standard of living.
3. For self-sufficiency
Sweden is Europe’s most mining nation. We should be proud of that. In a changed geopolitical situation, it becomes even more important to ensure the self-sufficiency of the raw materials we need to maintain the standard of living we take for granted.
Against this background, the EU Commission in 2010 identified several minerals and metals as so-called critical materials. The materials are considered strategically important for many product areas, not least in environmental technology.
A list was created which over time has been updated and expanded. Today, the list includes the following critical materials: antimony, beryllium, boron, fluorspar, phosphate, gallium, germanium, graphite, indium, silicon, cobalt, coke, chromium, magnesite, magnesium, niobium, the platinum group’s metals, light and heavy rare earth metals, and tungsten. The Swedish bedrock contains several of these critical raw materials.
In order to reduce the dependence on imports of raw materials, the EU also has the platform The European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials, EIP Raw Materials. There, representatives from industry, states, research and NGO:s gather.