Raw materials are essential for industry and for achieving the ambitions of the European Green Deal. However, although critical to Europe's climate goals and strategic autonomy, mining activities in Europe are often perceived as undesirable. The social partners are convinced that social dialogue initiatives can help secure responsible and sustainable raw materials from Europe and that they have a role to play in the Just Transition to a decarbonised economy.

Over two years, 2023-2025, the project aims to promote social dialogue in the sector in a concerted effort to improve sustainable mining in Europe and to promote examples of how sustainable mining and processing of raw materials has been developed in Europe and social acceptance built with the help of social dialogue.

The project kicked off with a conference in Brussels that brought together prominent figures from the extractive industry to discuss critical issues related to occupational health and safety (OHS), sustainability and the social dialogue needed to achieve good working conditions in the sector. The conference was chaired by Jean-Pierre Damm (FO FNEM) and Rolf Kuby (Euromines) and brought together participants from across Europe.

Among the guest speakers were MEP Hildegard Bentele and a representative of the European Commission’s DG Grow (Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs), who updated the meeting on the recently adopted Critical Raw Materials Act and European raw materials strategies. The meeting also discussed social dialogue experiences and practices with participants from trade unions and employers' organisations. A representative of the European Commission’s DG EMPL (Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion) also participated in the debate to report on the current initiative related to social dialogue at EU level.

Judith Kirton-Darling, Acting Joint Secretary General of industriAll Europe, said: 

"Raw materials are at the heart of our work at industriAll Europe as we represent workers across the supply chain of the net zero industries that require critical raw materials to achieve the ambitions of the Green Deal, from mining to final product.
"The coming transitions for Europe's extractive industries will be profound and workers need support. Europe's raw materials policy must therefore follow the principles of Just Transition. Social dialogue and good industrial jobs will be key if we are to achieve social acceptance of mining in Europe".

Rolf Kuby, Director General of Euromines, said:

“The future of the European industry starts in the mine. Critical raw materials are essential for the development of advanced technologies, such as those needed for the green transition. After all, solar-panels or wind-turbines must not only produce green electricity – they must be made of green raw materials in the first place.

"For years, the European raw materials sector, whether mining, processing or recycling, was neglected. The supply or cheap source materials was flowing to the EU freely. As a result, the EU was exporting the environmental impact. The EU must come back on the mining map and the permitting for new, ESG driven, extraction must be streamlined. The Critical Raw Materials Act is the step in right direction."