Excitement and interest in our Critical Raw Materials in Norway is growing by the day. With this comes great responsibility and we take our role very seriously. Looking back at this pivotal year for our business, and looking forward to 2022, here are five key considerations that are front of my team’s minds, as Norge Mining moves towards becoming a substantial and strategic mineral exploration company in the future.
1. Macroeconomic backdrop
The first important macroeconomic factor for us revolves around Norway’s oil and gas history. As the world moves away from fossil fuels, there have been negative consequences for the local economy. We are based near Stavanger – Norway’s oil and gas capital. So, we hope to offset the negative effect of the contraction of the industry in the future and provide a positive story for the local communities in terms of employment and growth. Not just locally, but nationally too.
A significant second factor is the European Union’s drive towards greater self-reliance on Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) and also the increasing emphasis placed on the provenance of such resources. Our 61 licences in Norway contain phosphate, titanium and vanadium – all EU CRMs. The potential for more localised supply chains is not only exciting for us, it’s 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, as far as we are concerned, we are top of the list in terms of the provenance of our resources.
2. Responsible business objectives
It’s important to remember that we are an exploration company at the moment; we’re not yet a mining company. But right from the get-go, we are observing responsible practices at this early stage of our life. Engagement with all our partners is extremely important to us. We need to maintain a social licence to operate. And to do that, we must bring everyone with us on our journey as we move forward.
We’re completing a ‘Scoping Study’ soon and we’re doing everything we can to find carbon neutral solutions for our future mining operations. We are referencing a 30 year financial model, so we can look forward optimistically and use the most advanced, environmentally-friendly options available. We will also need to meet Norway’s environmental standards – and we are very lucky to have the support of Norwegians.
3. ESG at our core
We’re a private company, but we’ve taken a big company approach. After all, we’re looking at a major project here, so we’ve had to put in checks and balances at a very early stage. We’ve created a committee to police our ESG strategy and delivery with Ingvil Smines Tybring-Gjedde as the Chair. She has fantastic commercial understanding and political know-how 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 – and this really reflects the increasing importance we are putting on local engagement and conversations.
4. Increasing interest
As far as Norway is concerned, mining is quite a nascent industry. There’s interest, quite wisely, in next generation industries – mining being one of them. We’re very lucky to have minerals that are absolutely crucial to the world’s clean energy transition and carbon neutral intentions. We are a member of ERMA (European Raw Materials Alliance). The organisation is tasked with identifying Critical Raw Materials and how Europe and the surrounding countries can be less reliant on other countries like China and Russia.
We can all see how commodities are being weaponised. Therefore, it’s very important that we have a very strong, interactive and supportive relationship from both Norway and Europe. The United States is also waking up to the fact that, for all its strengths, the country is quite vulnerable regarding certain minerals that are essential for the future of Americans. The US might increasingly see the importance of a more involved relationship with their allies, particularly on Critical Raw Materials. It’s clearly becoming a geopolitical issue. And strategically, we are right in the middle.
5. 2022’s Scoping Study
Our Scoping Study – which will be completed in the new year – assesses material risks and identifies strategic investment alternatives. We have to look at the technical ability to process the minerals, and decipher logistical issues and the best environmental solutions. We’re lucky to be in Norway. Almost 100% of its energy comes from sustainable methods. The study will cover a whole range of issues in order to support our objectives, such as the size of the mineral resources and the different market opportunities – that, of course, being critical, have even more importance to the European Union and surrounding countries.
As you can see, we’ve had an eventful year indeed. And we are readying ourselves for another busy year ahead, as our EU Critical Raw Materials are becoming increasingly topical and in demand.