Raw Materials: Key tool for Growth
First conclusions of the EIT RawMaterials: 3rd Greek Raw Materials Community Dialogue
With 3% of Greece's GDP coming from the extraction and exploitation of raw materials and 4% of the country's active population working in the sector, raw materials are clearly the “key" for the development and growth of the Greek economy.
This conclusion was confirmed in an emphatic way at the EIT RawMaterials: 3rd Greek Raw Materials Community Dialogue, which was successfully organized in Athens by the EIT Raw Materials Hub: Regional Center Greece (RCGREECE), which is operated by the Laboratory of Metallurgy of the School of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering of NTUA, bringing together stakeholders from the sector from Academia, Research, Industry and Governance, from Greece and Europe.
The event attracted more than 150 registered participants coming from more than 29 companies, 8 Universities, 5 research institutes, representatives from 2 Ministries, EIT Hub centers from Greece and other EU countries, EU representatives from EIT RM, EU companies-universities.
RCGREECE, through this two-day conference, highlighted all the latest developments and challenges of the Raw Materials sector, focusing on innovation, education and the social dimension of the sector's activity, in particular the impact on the environment.
Leading speakers, representatives of academic and research institutions, industry and governance, had the opportunity to exchange views and give ideas and good practices, both from Greece and Europe, with an emphasis on innovation and the future of the Raw Materials sector.
After all, this is a sector directly linked to technological progress, as reflected in the speeches of representatives of both the academic community and the industry, that have highlighted innovative interventions and initiatives that improve competitiveness and at the same time reduce the environmental footprint of the activities in the field.
Prof. Ioannis Paspaliaris, Vice-Rector of NTUA and Director of EIT RawMaterials Hub: RCGREECE, opened the event highlighting:
“A basic prerequisite for the strengthening of the Raw Materials and relevant manufacturing sectors in our country is the strengthening of the research in the field, the development of innovative ideas, the exploitation of new resources and, above all, the excellent training of new engineers and scientists to staff the Greek Mining and Metallurgy sector.
In order to achieve these objectives, Laboratory of Metallurgy of the School of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering of NTUA continue the ongoing effort to bring the Greek Academic Institutions and Industry into direct contact with the European status quo establish solid prospects for European funds to finance research and education in the field of Raw Materials."
It was a common finding that the Raw Materials sector is a competitive advantage of the Greek economy as it holds a key role for economic growth, employment and trade. It is indicative that it accounts for 3% of Greek GDP, with a total value of 1.2 billion euros, and 5% of Greece's total exports (€ 1 billion), while it directly employs 20,000 people and indirectly 80,000, mainly in the region. It is also a key attraction for investment.
Interestingly, RASS's public opinion research data, presented by the President of the Greek Mining Enterprises Association (GMEA), Mr. Athanasios Kefalas, showed that 86% of Greeks believe that the extraction of mineral resources is the key to economic growth, while 50% believe that mining activity favors the creation of new jobs and 40% that it supports local economies and societies. However, 73% of respondents estimate that there is insufficient political will to extract and exploit the country's mineral resources.
A key point of discussion was the role of education, both to promote innovation in the industry and to improve its acceptance by society, with the panel speakers pointing out that new generations of students, tomorrow's scientists and industry professionals, need to familiarize themselves with a culture of cooperation between academia and business, which will contribute to the sustainable development of the Raw Materials sector.
Especially for the issue of innovation in the sector, the representative of the Ministry of Economy and Development, Georgios Drosos, stressed that innovation came mainly from the business side and argued that the state should work supportive to their efforts by providing them with the right environment to innovate and “make their lives easier".
Finally, with regards to the reactions of social and local groups in mining/extractive projects, mainly due to their environmental impact, it was expressed that the main reasons for these reactions are bad practices of the past and lack of information and knowledge of the public on modern mining methods, which are environmentally friendly. The solution proposed was the open dialogue with society and cooperation between the mining industry, environmental organizations and others institutions.
More information will be available soon.