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Fig. 1. German manufacturers of mining equipment generate and produce a large proportion of their orders and sales abroad. Photo: Shutterstock

No climate transition without raw materials

The figures relating to Germany as a production location only show the real situation to a limited extent, especially in the mining industry. Manufacturers now generate and produce a large proportion of their orders and sales via subsidiaries abroad (Figure 1), which is not reflected in the statistics. Overall, the industry is doing well because the diversification in the minerals sector that began more than ten years ago is now bearing fruit.

In 2022, manufacturers of technology for the extraction of raw materials in Germany achieved a total turnover of 3.3 bn €. From January to September 2023, turnover fell by 28 % year-on-year to 2.7 bn €. In the first three quarters of 2023, order intake also fell by 36 % compared to January to September 2022. Exports by mining equipment manufacturers from Germany in the period from January to September 2023 were 1.4 % down on the same period last year at 1.36 bn €. VDMA Mining, Frankfurt M./Germany, estimates that the industry will end the current year with a turnover of 2.8 bn €. The figures indicate that production conditions for mining technology in Germany have deteriorated, as demand is there. Nevertheless, the number of employees remains stable at 12,200.

The electrification of industry and the needs of everyday life are dependent on the availability of sufficient resources. Unhindered and reliable access to critical raw materials is therefore a growing concern for the EU. With its Critical Raw Materials List, it continuously monitors and updates the risks that could lead to a supply stop.

In her video message, Franziska Brantner, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK) and spokesperson for European policy for the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group, assured the industry of better support. The government has decided to enable recycling and, if necessary, to increase resource and raw material efficiency by substituting materials and to extract and process more raw materials in Europe. At the same time, it is important to find additional partners worldwide in order to diversify supply chains. The government wants to create a fair competitive environment, e. g., with the European Critical Raw Materials Act. In order to be able to pursue this path of transformation, companies should be given the opportunity to receive investment support from a newly created raw materials fund.

The massive geopolitical upheavals in 2023 will have a significant impact on the industry. Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, the decoupling of China, the expansion of the BRICS community of states as a counterpoint to the western industrialised countries and the war in Israel are making mining technology manufacturers look to North and South American countries with more hope. Exploration spending in the Americas in 2022 accounted for 60 % of global spending (S&P Global Market Intelligence). It can therefore be assumed that most projects will take place in North and South American countries.

“It is only the excessive bureaucracy and the sprawling law on due diligence in the supply chain that significantly prevent us from fully fulfilling our entrepreneurial tasks. There is an urgent need for action on the part of political decision-makers to ensure that we succeed in bringing our machines to market quickly,” emphasised Michael Schulte Strathaus, Chairman of VDMA Mining. (VDMA/Si.)