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Bulgaria advised to enhance resource exploration for sustainable growth of mining sector

Bulgaria’s mining sector is at a crucial juncture, with the need to enhance exploration for subsoil resources to ensure its sustainable development, says Ivan Mitev, CEO of the Bulgarian Chamber of Mining and Geology, in an interview with SeeNews.

Mitev underscores a key challenge facing the sector: outdated information about subsoil deposits, primarily gathered in the 1960s through the mid-1980s. This lack of current data hampers understanding of available resources, their depth, and economic potential.

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“The lack of this knowledge hinders our ability to plan for facility replacements in the coming years, thereby maintaining the sector’s contribution to Bulgaria’s GDP,” Mitev emphasizes.

Mining presently constitutes about 10% of Bulgaria’s GDP, a figure that rises to approximately 30% when combined with metallurgy, according to Mitev.

Amid the world’s rapid technological advancement, securing raw material supplies is paramount. Global crises in recent years, from health emergencies to armed conflicts, have underscored Europe’s dependence on imports, Mitev notes. While Europe consumes 30% of global raw material supplies, it only extracts 3%, highlighting a significant dependency.

To address this, the European Council introduced ambitious benchmarks in March, aiming to enhance extraction, processing, recycling, and import diversification. The Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) identifies materials crucial for green and digital transitions, as well as defense and space industries. The CRMA sets benchmarks for annual raw material consumption in the EU, including 10% from local extraction, 40% for processing within the EU, and 25% from recycled materials. The legislation also streamlines permitting processes, with extraction projects set to receive permits within 27 months and recycling and processing projects within 15 months.

However, Bulgaria faces challenges in meeting these benchmarks due to lengthy administrative processes. Mitev highlights the need to enhance administrative capacity and ensure political commitment to sector goals.

Bulgaria possesses raw material deposits listed as critical and strategic by the European Council, albeit with lower concentrations compared to other regions. Despite this, the sector compensates with high volumes, continuous technology investments, and a skilled labor force.

In summary, Bulgaria’s mining sector stands at a critical juncture, necessitating increased exploration efforts to sustainably meet domestic and EU raw material demands.

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