Starved for jobs, Europe shifts attitude towards mining

With the European economic crisis showing no signs of abating after five long years, some attitudes towards mining on the continent are undergoing a gradual shift.

This is good news for Europe.

After all, the foundation of European integration was the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), established by the 1951 Treaty of Paris in the aftermath of two devastating world wars.

And the employment situation is increasingly dire, particularly for Europe's youth, quickly becoming a lost generation.

Now the European Union is devising policy to revive its faltering aluminum and steel industries, and to encourage raw materials independence.

Changes at the regional and national levels, too, are underway. In Spain's south, the Andalusian government recently awarded an exploration license to EMED on an aggregate surface area of 52 square kilometres, located approximately 8 kilometres from the company's wholly-owned Rio Tinto Copper Project.

Sweden has lowered its corporate tax rate to 22.5% from 26% to attract heavy industry.

Portugal, whose economic woes are arguably greater now than they were during the Great Depression, has reformed its labour code to allow miners to operate 24 hours a day without penalties.

In Basilicata, Italy, olive oil production is being left behind in favour of petroleum extraction, providing a boost to the local economy.

During a time of increased resource nationalism in many parts of the globe, Europe offers a low political risk environment. European nations also offer large, skilled labour pools, and relatively good ore prospects. For these reasons, Rio Tinto, Glencore and Trafigura have significantly bolstered investment in France, Spain and Italy, respectively, with plans for further investment over the next five years.

As a Europhile and former European resident hoping for economic recovery on the old continent, I'm pleased to see a shift towards more pragmatic industrial policy.