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Challenges and opportunities: Bulgaria’s mining sector amidst rising demand for precious metals

Bulgaria stands out in Europe as the third-largest copper producer and fourth-largest gold producer. Yet, despite the increasing international demand for these metals, the country has yet to implement strategic projects for energy development, according to Prof. Dr. Nikolay Valkanov, honorary chairman of the Bulgarian Chamber of Mining and Geology. Addressing the 6th European Mining Business Forum in Sofia, Valkanov highlighted the abundance of untapped raw materials in Bulgaria and the dwindling resources currently under exploitation.

The country’s mining landscape spans 85,000 acres for metallic minerals and nearly 62,000 acres for non-metallic industrial minerals. Additional sectors include oil and natural gas extraction, solid fuels, construction materials, and rock-facing materials, covering extensive land areas. However, the Acting Deputy Minister of Energy, Krasimir Nenov, stressed the importance of resource security for economic competitiveness during the forum. He emphasized the need for strategic planning and development in line with the transition to sustainable energy and the growing demand for essential raw materials.

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With 34 raw materials identified as important and 17 categorized as strategically vital, there is a clear indication of future demand. Roll Cubby, CEO of Euromines, emphasized the imperative to bolster the entire supply chain and collaborate internationally to achieve a 10% increase in essential raw material production by 2030. To meet this target, 25-30 new strategic mining projects are required, along with sustainable mining practices across Europe.

Maria Suner, CEO of the Swedish industry association Svemin and a member of the Euromines Executive Committee, advocated for the appointment of a European commissioner dedicated to raw material access. She called for legislative and regulatory improvements to facilitate raw material extraction within Europe while ensuring mutual benefits for the EU and third-country investors or resource providers. Suner emphasized the importance of environmental regulations that support resource conservation without hindering production, particularly considering the current reliance on third countries for over 65% of valuable materials.

A key target has been set to source 25% of strategic raw materials through circular economy practices, including the recycling of precious metals and raw materials. This approach aims to enhance resource sustainability and reduce dependency on external sources in the long term.

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