iCRAG partners in €7.5 million project to understand the potential for mining critical raw materials in Europe
iCRAG, the SFI Research Centre in Applied Geosciences hosted at University College Dublin, is a partner in VECTOR, a newly awarded three-year, €7.5 million project under the European Union’s Horizon Europe and the UK’ Research and Innovation funding programmes. VECTOR addresses factors that affect the supply of raw materials needed to manufacture the technologies, such as wind turbines and batteries, that underpin the green energy transition to address our climate crisis. The VECTOR project focuses on developing evidence-based and accessible knowledge integrating scientific and social pathways to improve mineral exploration and mining primarily in a European context.
Renewable energy technologies require critical raw materials such as copper, zinc, and lithium. Demand for these commodities is increasing as countries strive to meet their climate goals. The EU imports most of these materials even though Europe has deposits of these key raw materials. Boosting European mineral production would reduce dependence on third countries and strengthen critical strategic and industrial value chains.
The VECTOR project, with 18 partners from seven countries, aims to understand the geological potential for critical raw materials and society’s perceptions of mineral exploration in Europe. The project will develop new, more efficient and sustainable technologies and exploration models as well as stimulating critical debate among all stakeholders in order to develop guidelines for more sustainable sourcing of critical raw materials.
Geertje Schuitema, Associate Professor at the UCD School of Business and leader of the research on social acceptance said: “This is a truly important project because it recognises that we cannot solve technical problems without understanding and addressing their societal consequences. VECTOR will provide a model for integrating social science research with scientific research across the full breadth and duration of the project.”
iCRAG has been awarded €1.3 million under the leadership of Prof. Geerje Schuitema, School of Business, UCD, in collaboration with Prof. Murray Hitzman and Dr Fergus McAuliffe, School of Earth Sciences and Dr Shane Bergin, School of Education.
iCRAG Director, Prof. Murray Hitzman, who leads Irish work on mineral exploration in VECTOR commented: “Europe, including Ireland, has real potential for discovery and production of several of the critical elements needed to decarbonise our economies and deliver the green transition. Our researchers will focus on identifying new, less invasive technologies for Irish mineral exploration.”
Results from VECTOR research will be freely available via an engaging, web-based interface designed to support evidence-based decision making. VECTOR is hosted by the Helmholtz Institute Frieberg for Resource Technology at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf.
Partners met, for the first time in person, for the project kick-off meeting on June 23 and 24th in Berlin, where the final details of the Grant agreement, the project governance structure and start of the activities were discussed
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101058483.