Sweden's ambition to become one of the world's first fossil-free developed nations represents significant opportunities for the metals and mining sector, according to participants at the Euro Mine Expo in Skelleftea, Sweden, which ended June 14.
Companies including Boliden AB, Talga Resources Ltd. and Leading Edge Materials Corp. said the country's aim for a green, sustainable society created opportunities for miners, in particular, those producing metals needed for batteries and environmentally friendly infrastructure.
"Many people think we are only in this business to generate profit for our shareholders and maybe contribute to creating jobs locally," Boliden CEO Mikael Staffas said. "But the main reason we exist is to produce base metals that are needed in many aspects of life. That is also why there is a demand."
Sweden is one of the most active nations in tackling climate change. While the EU has set a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80% to 95% by 2050 compared to levels seen in the 1990s, Sweden is aiming to become one of the first fossil fuel-free developed nations worldwide.
Among other initiatives, it seeks a 70% cut in emissions from public transport by 2030 and to get all of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2040.
To achieve these targets, Sweden is looking to boost key industries driving this transition in society.
"We are in for a game changer if we are able to grab [the opportunity]," Mikael Damberg, minister of innovation and enterprise, told conference attendees. "Until now, the mining industry in a modern society such as Sweden has been viewed as a problem. Now, we have a window of opportunity to talk about the transition in society; that is a different ball game. If we want to succeed in our goals in the transportation system, we need electrification of the transport system, and the mining industry is instrumental to make that happen."
Sustainability will remain key going forward. With a view toward stimulating demand for sustainably produced metals and minerals, including steel with very low greenhouse gas emissions, the government just commissioned a study that will assess the rationale of sustainability certifications in the metals and mining sector, the minister added.