Feedback on the conference about "The raw materials shortage"

metaux pénurie namur bep aide

The Idealys business club organised a conference entitled “The raw materials shortage, metals and non-metals” at Crealys on Thursday, 1 December 2022.

The shortage of geological materials

Pr. Joan Yans, professor of geology at the University of Namur, explained that:

  • 92 billion tonnes are extracted from the ground every year for the six main materials
  • 10% of the world’s energy is used for extraction and refining
  • 90% of the energy used today remains fossil based.

The example of electric vehicles illustrates the challenge: they require more different metals than other vehicles. So we need more materials to make them – a factor that does not instantly spring to mind.

The shortage of many metals has long been a subject of discussion and is resulting in higher prices. In fact, Europe is entirely dependent on deposits from other continents.
Wallonia has 150 operational quarries, but not one of them concerns metals. The Nimby phenomenon currently prevents any increase in extraction, which means that mines cannot be relocated in the region.

Reduce before recycling

This being the case, the first solution remains to reduce our consumption! 

Which is why the circular economy is becoming a very important factor:

  • Eco-design
  • Extending the lifespan of products, etc.

This is just one of the areas in which the BEP offers to assist companies. As part of the Walloon circular economy strategy, Circular Wallonia, the Minister of the Economy and the Walloon Government have approved the initiative aimed at providing Industrial Symbiosis Facilitators in business parks and the BEP is playing an important role in this strategy!

Find out more about industrial symbiosis

The Stûv example 

Mr Jean-François Sidler, CEO of the company Stûv, traced the history of the company that designs and manufactures wood-burning stoves, pellets stoves and fireplace inserts. The company uses a lot of raw materials to produce these stoves and inserts, in particular metals and glass.

Mr Sidler was able to share his experience and his fears regarding the manufacturing of these products in an environment in which the issue of supplies is becoming more complex.

Right from the outset, Stûv founder Mr Pitance aimed to design a stylish, high-performance product. The company developed a business model based on eco-design and local manufacturing.

This model continues to evolve by integrating:

  • dismantling
  • reconditioning
  • recycling.

Improved sales control is shortly to be added to this list.

The challenge is to find greener steel and also to increase materials recycling. Finally, Stûv is planning to create a spin-off with Namur University to work on a flue gas purification system involving a catalytic converter that filters toxic gases.

The Club

The Idealys Club is to organise further themed gatherings in 2023, in addition to the usual activities intended for its members (sports, fun events, etc.).

Find out more 

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