In order to secure a sustainable supply of raw materials, Europe is confronted with a number of challenges along the entire raw materials value chain. However, data and information on raw materials in the EU, when existing, is scattered across different institutions, from ministries, agencies, geological surveys to research institutes, universities and other organisations. These knowledge (i.e. data and information) is stored in various formats and is not systematically harmonised or standardised. This situation, for instance, makes is difficult (if not impossible) to find and compare raw materials specific knowledge across Member States, or to compile a database of EU information.

In order to tap into the full potential of primary and secondary raw materials and to boost the innovation capacity of the EU raw materials sector, it is essential to involve all relevant stakeholders, public authorities, raw materials and downstream industries, research communities and society, to work toward the same objectives in a coordinated manner.

The European Union Raw Materials Knowledge Base (EURMKB) – coordinated by DG GROW – has been established to provide EU level data and information on raw materials from different sources in a harmonized and standardized way. This will encourage activities within the raw materials sector, not only regarding exploration, extraction, processing/refining and recycling, but also with regard to trade, development, skills and education. This will consequently help increase the available supply of raw materials as well as strengthen Europe’s position at the forefront of the raw materials sector. The knowledge base is the foundation of the technological and non-technological priority areas and of the international cooperation pillar. Key actions within the EURMKB framework include:

  • Organise relevant data input and establish relevant EU/global standards to ensure that the knowledge base would be interoperable with national and other relevant databases (such as FP7 projects). The databases should incorporate data and information about primary and secondary raw materials.
  • Include information on existing techniques/technologies and business models that support the circular economy (e.g. design trends, new products, material use, sorting, pre-treatment and treatment technologies which impact how materials are collected and treated).
  • Reporting public data, based on EU/international reporting guidelines. Reporting should include, but not be limited to, web services and portals on raw materials with links to data providers, further to the EU European minerals yearbook, annual reports and an early warning system based on modelling forecasts of future supply and demand of raw materials from primary and secondary sources.
  • Improvement of data collection of raw resources at national and regional level in the EU and subsequent access to data.

Towards a more coherent mapping and accessibility of data and information relevant to the EURMKB, the Knowledge Base Architecture (KBA) project – coordinated by DG GROW – was initiated in 2014 to provide technical analysis of different components of the EURMKB. The KBA project is taking stock of data needs of the Commission and other stakeholders and mapping information about data sources which could satisfy these needs. Several relevant studies and projects, which received funding from the EU, were selected and are undergoing analysis. The KBA, in particular, monitors different projects’ compliance with the EC’s IT requirements and draw up a proposal for the architecture of the EURMKB.

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