The EU is highly dependent on mineral raw materials, which are essential for European industries, jobs and growth. Part of the strategy for assessing issues on security of supply of raw materials is to improve the quality and harmonisation of raw materials data. This is essential not just for investigating supply vulnerability at the European level, but also for facilitating information sharing at different levels within the EU. A key requirement of this data is to understand the resource potential of Europe, by evaluating known ‘geological stocks’ of raw materials using statistics for mineral resources and reserves.

Unfortunately no pan-European resource and reserve estimates exist due to serious issues relating to data availability, quality and harmonisation, even though several projects have attempted this, such as Minerals4EU and Promine. The main issues are:

  • For many countries there is either no data or data for only a few commodities.
  • Data is compiled according to a wide variety of systems of reporting across Europe. In many cases, these codes are not comparable and cannot be summed.
  • Some countries use their own unique national reporting systems, while others use a number of different codes.
  • The age of the datasets varies considerably. Some are undated ‘historical’ estimates, while others are modern estimates based on current international reporting systems.

One solution to the issue of multiple non-comparable resources and reserves reporting codes and standards in use across Europe would be harmonisation of resources and reserves data at the EU level. It is not suggested that individual countries should change their currents systems of working, many of which have a legal foundation. At the national level, all countries would be able to continue with other systems of reporting to suit their internal purposes, but when figures are reported to a central point for EU level compilation (e.g. European Minerals Yearbook) and in order for them to be consistent and comparable they would need to be converted to a harmonised system.

The use of a single system of reporting should be agreed by EU nations in order to move forward with the EU level harmonisation of mineral resources and reserves statistical data. The chosen system of reporting should  be internationally recognised, widely accepted across Europe, be fit for purpose for national reporting and have the capacity for other reporting standards and codes to be mapped to it. The ORAMA project is looking at how the UNFC system can be used to achieve this goal.

The ORAMA project has been given the task to assist with the organisation of moving towards this direction and we would welcome comments and input from relevant public authorities in Europe. The ORAMA project would like to work with organisations willing to examine the adoption of the UNFC system for EU public authority reporting of mineral resources and reserves data and it will attempt to provide training and related material to facilitate the move. It is important therefore that interest from European public authorities is registered with ORAMA.

The ORAMA project team would be grateful if you could provide us with feedback you may have regarding the issues discussed here. This will help us shape the recommendations put forward for harmonisation of resource and reserve data. If you have any comments on any of these issues please get in touch with Tom Bide (tode@bgs.ac.uk).

Distribution of available copper resource data within the European countries covered by the e-Minerals Yearbook created in the Minerals4EU project. Available resource data are shown after clicking individual country on the map in that webservice.