Riigikogu EU affairs committee: Estonia should decide for itself on mining

Mining in Estonia (photo is illustrative).
Mining in Estonia (photo is illustrative). Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

Estonia, and all European Union member states, should be able to decide its own destiny with regard to mining minerals under its subsoil, the Riigikogu European Union Affairs Committee finds.

Chair of the Riigikogu's EU Affairs Committee Liisa Pakosta (Eesti 200) underlined that Estonia already was the largest producer in the EU of rare earths and several critical raw materials.

Pakosta said: "We mine, and mining forms a part of our prosperity. As regards further extraction permits, it is vital that Estonia makes all its decisions itself," adding that mineral resources and recovery of critical elements were a key issue for the country.

The Riigikogu's EU Affairs Committee amended Estonia's positions on the proposal for a regulation on critical raw materials package on Friday, choosing to stress that all decisions regarding mining must remain within the competence of member states.

"From mobile phones to windmills, more necessary raw materials are needed than there are known geological resources," Pakosta went on, via a Riigikogu press release.

"It is clear that critical materials in the mining waste should be recycled more effectively in order to recover as many critical raw materials as possible for producing, for, example, new chips, magnets or batteries."

"The more we are able to refine mining waste and increase the recycling of raw materials, the less critical raw materials need to be extracted," she added.

Tanel Kiik (Center), who also sits on the EUAffairs Committee, pointed out that in order to recycle waste effectively, it is important to have a just transition fund which would enable companies to apply for funding to set up, for example, a recycling plant for lithium-ion batteries.

"The EU Affairs Committee decided to amend the positions by adding a clause making it is necessary to establish an all-European support fund for granting state aid which would be specifically dedicated to financing critical raw materials projects and to which all businesses of the EU would have equal access," Kiik said.

The EU initiative aims to provide a strong industrial base and to ensure a secure, diversified, affordable and sustainable supply of critical raw materials, as well as to enhance circularity and sustainability.

The target is to produce and process 50 percent of the critical raw materials needed by the EU, within the EU, by 2030.

Director of Mineral Resources Department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications Ene Jürjens and Adviser of the Environmental Management Department of the Ministry of the Environment Piret Otsason gave an overview to the sitting of the initiative and answered questions.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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