An important step in order to coordinate research and training in metals and minerals in the Barents Region is hindsight after a workshop at Luleå University of Technology with participants from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Russia. The workshop was arranged by LTU in cooperation with the Swedish Foreign Ministry and led to guidelines for what content a competence centre should have.
- We have paved the way for establishment of a competence centre where LTU will play an important role in a joint research and education initiative, in the Barents region, and with the support of the EU's raw material directive. Our final document contains, among other things, proposals on how the center will be organized and funded and we intend to bring it when the Foreign Ministers of the Barents Cooperation meets in Kiruna in mid-October, says Pär Weihed professor of ore geology at Luleå University and host of the workshop.
- It is important to have a coordination of research and education between the countries in the Barents region and also we have the support of our State Department for that approach, says Jack Ødegård, research director at Norway's largest research institute SINTEF
In a scenario where competition for raw material increases as the emerging markets are growing globally, it becomes important for Europe to have a plan for their own economic development, where prosperity and jobs, etc. lies in the balance. It is clear that the Barents Region with a good supply of mineral and metals is a key in this context. That there is great interest in the Barents region and its raw materials is manifested also in connection with a conference in early November in northern Finland on prospecting and mining "Fennoscandian Exploration and Mining Conference"
- We already have more than one thousand interested who have registered for the conference, says Mr Pekka Nurmi, Research Director at GTK (Finnish Geological Survey)
For a favorable development in the region it needs coordinated research and education in close cooperation with industry, so that the resource should be exploited in a sustainable manner and to the benefit of European development.
- For us it needs a lot of research, but perhaps it is even as much about skills supply to take advantage of the global developments that are ongoing. Although we have a recession right now, we know that in a longer cycle, demand will increase once such as China and India will build out their infrastructure and then we need even more employees with the right skills, says Per Erik Lindvall, head of technology and business development at LKAB.
To develop and broaden Nordic Mining School, which already exists under the wings of LTU, is an example of an ingredient in a new competence center focusing on metals and minerals in the Barents Region. Another task for a new center is obviously to be able to identify and define new areas of research that generates more research that leads to tomorrow's solutions in the form of new innovations. The intention is to establish a center that enhances the value of raw materials and increase interest in education to relevant professions demanded by the industry.
- The prospects are good since the Barents Region is "Top of Europe" when it comes to metals, says Pär Weihed, a professor at Luleå University of Technology.