According to a recent World Bank Group report ‘The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition’, “over 3 billion tons of minerals and metals will be needed to deploy wind, solar and geothermal power, as well as energy storage, required for achieving a below 2°C future.” Amid this weighty demand, interest in our EU Critical Raw Materials is growing at a rapid rate. Myself and my trusted team at Norge Mining take this responsibility very seriously, as we move further towards becoming a substantial and strategic mineral exploration company.
Hot on the heels of the release of our second Responsible Business Report, here is a synopsis of five key considerations that have become our main focus and drivers as we evolve.
Securing CRM supply
The European Union is driving towards greater self-reliance on Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) and increasing emphasis is rightly being placed on the provenance of such resources. Our 61 licences in Norway contain phosphate, titanium, and vanadium – all EU-classified CRMs. The potential for more localised supply chains is not only exciting for us, but it’s also garnering a lot of regional attention. As the world tries to work out how it’s going to meet the objectives set out at COP26, we consider ourselves top of the list in terms of provenance. These resources are also supported by a highly developed infrastructure, including sources of renewable energy to deliver vertically integrated industry supply chains.
Responsible business objectives
Despite being at the exploration, not production stage, right from inception we’ve been observing responsible social and environmental practices. Engagement with all our partners is extremely important to us and critical for our social licence to operate. And to do that, we must bring everyone with us on our journey as we move forward. Our recently completed Scoping Study (more on that in one moment) identifies the likely impact of our activities and we’re doing everything we can to find carbon neutral solutions for our future mining operations. All our activities will be based on Norway’s progressive environmental standards.
Ambitious corporate governance
While we are a small private company, we have a big company approach. Putting in the necessary checks and balances at a very early stage, we have created a committee to provide independent oversight of our ESG strategy and delivery with Ingvil Smines Tybring-Gjedde as the Chair. She has expert commercial understanding and political experience regarding ESG issues (having been the former Deputy Minister in the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy). Ingvil’s enthusiasm and positive approach is quite palpable and motivating for all of us. We also appointed Erik Joa as Community Liaison Officer, reflecting the great importance we put on local stakeholder engagement as our mining plans develop.
Globally, there is understandable interest in a responsible energy transition. Norway is blessed with the CRMs that are absolutely crucial to this shift and to our carbon neutral ambitions. However, supply security of these materials is an increasingly international issue, with the scarcity of precious commodities being weaponised for geopolitical and economic advantage. One of the principal tasks of the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA) is to identify CRM deposits for development so the world is less reliant on traditional sources from countries like China and Russia. Norge Mining is looking to support this objective through our membership of ERMA and our engagement with industry colleagues – and by building supportive relations with both Norway and Europe. The United States is increasingly cognisant of the strategic vulnerability of certain minerals that are essential to its interests, and we may see more bipartisan action regarding Critical Raw Materials.
In 2022, we will achieve a significant milestone. Our Scoping Study assesses the material risks and strategic investment alternatives. We are fortunate that almost 100% of Norway’s energy comes from sustainable sources of generation, minimising our emissions footprint. New data is now being incorporated into the Bjerkreim Exploration Project’s Scoping Study, as well as a further bolstering of our team of experts. The good news is that we have enough resources and have achieved the major objective of increasing our grades, especially in phosphate. We now have a total resource of 910 million tonnes in the Storeknuten deposit, and that’s a substantial increase in volume and the grade compared to the maiden estimate.
Back to the World Bank’s Minerals for Climate Action report, and these words certainly resonate: “While the growing demand for minerals and metals provides economic opportunities for resource-rich developing countries and private sector entities alike, significant challenges will likely emerge if the climate-driven clean energy transition is not managed responsibly and sustainably.”
In my mind, Norway is firmly placing itself at the centre of the development of the European mining industry – to meet the demand of the clean energy transition, reduce dependence on global supply chains and achieve environmental and social sustainability objectives. And as the gatekeepers of 61 licences in the southwest of the country, we are working hard to meet our own objectives that I’ve set out here, and those of the world – as Net Zero comes ever closer.