The availability of natural resources is at the core of attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) is a global standard for the sustainable management of all energy and mineral resources in alignment with the objectives of 2030 Agenda. The Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) has decided to include UNFC categories in the Mineral Deposit Database of Finland and has published practical guidelines for its consistent use.
UNFC is designed to meet the needs of policy formulation, management of resources, corporate business processes, and financial capital allocation. Countries and companies around the world are increasingly using UNFC to improve the socio-economic viability and technological readiness of resource development projects and ensure responsiveness and resilience to regional and global challenges. GTK believes the use of UNFC will support effective management of national resource endowments and facilitate stakeholder communications at local, regional, country, EU and global scales.
“Finland has a vast mineral endowment, and GTK has been assessing the potential for discovery of new resources for over a century”, observed Dr. Saku Vuori, Director, Science and Innovations, GTK, Finland. “Having such a long continuity of experience also means variations in the quality of the data. It is crucial to have a common resource classification scheme that can be widely applied and used, and from our point of view, UNFC is one of a kind.”
In Finland, the mining industry directly employs 7,000 people with an annual turnover of 2 billion Euros. Metal refining and smelting employ 15,000 people with a turnover of 12 billion Euros. Imports of metal ores, concentrates and industrial minerals are, in total, 3 times higher in value than their exports. Jointly, mining industry and metal refining account for 6 % of GDP. “Knowledge of the resources in the ground is an essential part of security of supply not just for Finland but for any country” noted Dr Vuori.
GTK expects Finland to benefit from the UNFC guidelines by improving its natural resource management, which will also be harmonized with EU requirements. GTK is now offering training in UNFC implementation to experts in Finland and other interested countries.
“Application of UNFC will trigger opportunities for governments, industry and financiers to reimagine their businesses and put themselves firmly on the sustainable development pathway,” noted Mr. Scott Foster, Director, Sustainable Energy Division, UNECE. “The transformation will include improved environmental management of projects, for example, vastly reduced impact on land, soil, water and air and significant waste reduction. Importantly, UNFC also applies to renewable energy projects where we see its use increasing.”
UNFC can also be applied to anthropogenic or secondary resources such as residues from mines and refinery and smelter sites. These residues could become viable resources for a variety of reasons including disruptions in supply of virgin raw materials, changes in mineral prices, development of new processing technologies, or increasing pressure to focus on green and circular economies. GTK expects to issue guidelines for application of UNFC to anthropogenic resources in the future.
For further information on UNFC and/or the UNECE Expert Group on Resource Management that oversees development and implementation of UNFC visit: https://www.unece.org/energy/se/reserves.html