Mining revival offers hope in crisis-hit Europe – by Susan Thomas (Reuters U.K. – July 4, 2013)

LONDON, July 4 (Reuters) – A gradual shift in European attitudes and policy toward mining in the past four years, spurred by the need to create jobs and to ensure supply of critical materials, has led to investment and a nascent revival of the industry.

New or resurrected mining and smelting projects in some areas of Europe are providing some prospects for growth in the region as countries struggle with recession and crippling unemployment.

A handful of countries, including hard-hit Spain and Portugal, are attracting investment with good grades of ore, a large labour pool, revamped mining regulations and low political risk.

“Spain has gone from being shy of mining to being welcoming of mining. The political landscape has turned 180 degrees,” said EMED Mining Chief Executive Harry Anagnostaras-Adams, whose London-listed company plans to reopen a former Rio Tinto copper mine near Seville.

“There has been a marked transformation between when we arrived six years ago, when mining was not conventionally regarded as a favourite industry, to today when it overshadows most other initiatives in the area.”

Redevelopment of the mine, which is likely to begin next year and last 12 months, will directly employ 1,000 people on the site in a region where around 50 percent of the population is unemployed.

At EU level, new broad policy initiatives on raw materials have been adopted to boost employment and make the bloc less dependent on imports of vital raw materials.

The EU is the world’s largest or second-largest producer of some industrial minerals, including feldspar – used in glass and ceramics – and construction mineral gypsum.

It remains an importer of most others including copper, zinc and tin. Its domestic production of metallic minerals is limited to about 3 percent of world output.

Leading emerging market producers of minerals in Africa and Asia, meanwhile, are increasingly adopting strategies designed to protect their resources for future development and for domestic markets.

“Growing resource nationalism in many parts of world makes Europe more attractive from a political risk point of view,” Raw Materials Group analyst Magnus Ericsson said.

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