Think Tank – October 22, 2021:


Ghent University, Bluebridge and Global Sea Mineral Resources have organized on Friday 22nd of October, 2021 the Think-Tank ‘Global mineral supply and meeting the challenge of future demand’. The Think-Tank joined leading scientists, policy makers, experts and entrepreneurs to debate on four themes. Each theme was introduced by an initiator.

The four themes and initiators:

1. Climate change, population growth and metal demand. Prof. dr. Jean-Pascal Van Ypersele, UCL

The mitigation of climate change e.g. increase of renewable energy could increase the need of metals. The evolution of the world population and the tendency towards urbanization could have an impact on demand for metals. In this topic the impact of both evolutions on the demand for raw materials will be discussed. This means debating the likely magnitude of both phenomena and their impact on the demand for metals.

2. Europe and the search for mineral and metal supply. Prof. dr. Jonathan Holslag, VUB

The presence of metals is unevenly distributed around the world. This doesn’t only relate to the geographical distribution of the sources, but also to the control over them. In this topic we discuss Europe’s geopolitical position concerning the access to metal market.

3. Recent evolutions: innovations, circular economy and deep-sea mining. Prof. dr. Eric Pirard, Université de Liège

The themes mentioned above can’t be decoupled of technological evolution. What is the possible impact of transforming to a circular economy? What are the technological possibilities to limit the demand of metals? What timeframes of these technological innovations are desirable/possible/realistic?

4. Comparing Impact through Life Cycle Assessments. Prof. dr. Jo De Wulf, Ghent University

The debate about deep-sea minerals automatically triggers the discussion about the various possibilities for mining metals. In this topic the predominant focus shall be on the comparison between deep-sea mining, versus land mining without extending the existing mines versus land mining with extra mines. This mainly concerns the ecological impact (biodiversity, for example), pollution and CO2 emissions (life-cycle assessment).

The discussion will be led according to an adapted version of the Chatham House Rules:

  1. The conversations are frank: everyone gives their own opinion without hesitation and everyone’s opinion is treated respectfully. 
  2. The content of the conversations will remain in private. Everyone who speaks should be sure that he/she is not quoted later. 
  3. To guarantee a respectful and open discussion evidence-based arguments e.g. quoting (data) sources is highly recommended. 
  4. Those who took part in the debate and the fact that the debate took place will be announced. It is not a “secret club”. 
  5. Reporting after the debate is possible if each participant agrees with the content of the workshop report. 
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