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Helsinki, 10 September 2015
Honoured Conference delegates, My Ladies and Gentlemen, Colleagues
It is a privilege and honour to open the third day of Global Cleantech Summit 2015, here in Helsinki. A day focusing on Cleantech Innovations in Minerals Production.
Mining is a well-known activity. For hundreds, even thousands of years, mining has been on-going, developing of course significantly, but still based on the same basic principle:
To extract from the ground something that is needed in our everyday life. The demand and knowledge of minerals have also developed throughout the centuries, as well as the processes for extraction.
Nordkalk, as part of Rettig Group - a Finnish family owned business - represents industrial minerals. We are a limestone producer, established in Finland in 1898, processing limestone to many different applications. Our operations include applications from stone supplies to specialised hydrated lime products. Environmental applications are an important driver in our business today.
Material efficiency - converting waste and residuals to commercial products
Minerals that earlier were considered waste have today received an important role thanks to for example summits like this today, were people meet, hear and discuss new approaches from different angles. Maybe it was a similar occasion that resulted in one development story - converting waste to a commercial product in Lappeenranta, a town in south-east of Finland some thirty years ago:
At Nordkalk in Lappeenranta we have one of the few European ores of a rare mineral called wollastonite.
In the seventies wollastonite was still considered waste in the calcite and cement stone chain, and we did our utmost to lead it to the waste deposits.
Thanks to great engineering work these residual flows were questioned; wollastonite was found to have exceptional properties, giving significant quality improvements in ceramics, glass, and later on in plastics applications.
Today Nordkalk is a small but the leading producer of wollastonite extracted in Europe.
No mineral producer neglects material efficiency. Every ton of non-utilised material is a cost that needs to be carried out by the other fractions extracted. But where is the customer, where is the application for wall rock, flotation residuals and other by-products and side flows? Where can we find the customers for all our by-products, keeping in mind that mining operations are often located in areas with low level of urbanisation, implying that logistics is another key issue to consider?
Today we will discuss mining and its challenges in Barents and Arctic regions - in these as I understand untouched surroundings - which is of great importance - but maybe we should also review mining in more urbanised areas. How could we develop the mining industry, both in respect of extraction and processing, to enable us to have mining activities also close to populated areas?
Of course keeping in mind that it is only possible to extract minerals where they exist.
Could this be an opportunity for increased material efficiency and better use of by-products and residuals linked to our industry?
In addition to improved material efficiency we need actions to further improve the material recovery and technology linked to mineral processing. This continuous improvement work is essential to achieve desired steps towards a fully functioning Circular economy.
Legislations and restrictions - it is a give and take
Continuous development towards reduced emissions into air, water and soil is of course something that also the mining industry is aware of and actively striving for. This is an investment into future, costly, but in many respects necessary and needed.
There is also a continuous focus towards renewable energy sources, such as solar power, wind mills, hybrid engines and batteries, to mention a few.
How do we then reach these tightened emission levels and higher share of renewable energy sources? The simple answer is: Through increased consumption of minerals - of course.
"If you want clean tech, you need mines," said Kerry-Ann Adamson, a former research director with Navigant Research. "If you haven't got mines, you are not going to get a battery," she added. "If you don't have platinum, you are not going to get a fuel cell."
I foresee, together with many experts, that the mineral extraction and processing will grow further with the global technological development and urbanisation. The question is then: How do we react in Europe and especially in Northern Europe to this increased demand?
Is our answer:
NO thank you - we leave the minerals in the ground and focus on offering services to each other, leaving this base industry to others and focusing on importing all needed materials.
Or - could our answer be YES: We believe in mining as our mining is executed in the most sustainable way. We understand the risks and consequences related to mining. We have, and we will further develop, the Best Available Technology to execute mining.
The legislation linked to the mining industry and requirements by authorities need to be tough, and followed by those operating in the industry. But they should also be understandable, non-pending and achievable for the industry. The review of permit processes needs to be based on existing legislation, sustainability throughout the value chain, and it needs to be time limited.
We need to review the level of added value, and compare it with the impact on nature and biosphere and then decide: Is this a sustainable enough operation that adds enough value throughout the value chain to allow mining and earning this way the social acceptance. The decision is then to be made in a legal process, not political.
We could, as earlier said, also focus fully on importing all our minerals, let them to be produced in countries where the legislation and control might not have developed to the level of ours. Where health & safety and restrictions of emissions have not yet reached the Best Available Technology thinking. Is this the path we want to follow? Hopefully not.
At the same time this could also lead to underdeveloped utilisation of minerals, for example for cleantech applications in Europe. We need to remember that minerals keep the industry and our everyday life running - in many respects.
In Sweden, the government made a decision just the other week that poses a threat to a whole industry that serves the Nordic steel, mining and chemical industry. An industrial history of hundreds of years is at risk to be squeezed to zero.
Minerals is Cleantech - Cleantech is Mindset!
Nordkalk, together with all other Rettig Group companies, joined the Cleantech Finland network in January 2013. Why have we done this? At a first glance one might wonder how an industrial minerals company, extracting limestone and producing lime, is linked to Cleantech.
I will give you some ideas of limestone-based applications linked in my view to Cleantech:
Reduce leakage of phosphorus to waterwaysImprove crops through better utilisation of fertilizers - enabling more efficient nutrient circulationReduce sulphur to air from power plantsReach the maritime SECA criteria on sea through dry scrubbersReduce impurities in grey water let back to waterwaysPurify fresh water without chemicalsJust to mention a few, and still leaving out the industrial applications, which I see as additional examples of Cleantech Innovations.I therefore suggest that, as long as the extraction and further processing of minerals is based on sustainability and valid legislation- we should allow and further develop the European mining industry.
Therefore, dear summit delegates, let us show that through sustainable and environmentally sound mining operations as well as efficient material utilisation; we, the mining industry and our partners, participate in making our planet Earth a better place to live on.
Remembering: What does not grow - needs to be extracted.
The work with Cleantech Innovations in Minerals production has started - but there is more to be done.
I wish us all a successful day - Thank you!
Nordkalk is the leading limestone company in Northern Europe. We deliver essential raw materials to numerous industries, and our solutions contribute to clean air and water as well as productivity of agricultural land.