Skip to main content

Europe uses United Nations Framework Classification for Resources to manage Critical Raw Materials and minerals and to unlock “waste” assets

Europe uses United Nations Framework Classification for Resources to manage Critical Raw Materials and minerals and to unlock “waste” assets

Open cast mine in mountain landscape

In a move towards sustainable resource management, several countries have presented case studies of how the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) can scale-up harmonized resource management. UNFC provides a common language and standards for the classification of all energy and mineral resources.  

Case Studies 

UNFC has been applied in several case studies, including extracting Graphite in Norway, sections of Sweden’s Kiruna mine, the largest iron ore mine in the world, as well as supporting national evaluation of critical raw materials projects in France. Across Europe, UNFC is being incorporated into national minerals inventory projects by the Geological Service for Europe (GSEU). 

Initiatives have been supported by the recent publication of UNFC Guidance Europe, a supportive document for policymakers to establish and maintain an inventory of primary and secondary raw materials projects in Europe, further facilitating decision-making by national governments, regional authorities, geological surveys, corporations and academics. UNFC use is also stipulated in the draft EU Critical Raw Materials Act presented in March.  

UNFC has also been used to apply sustainable resource management practices to secondary raw materials, which can help accelerate the move to a circular economy. Finland has utilized UNFC to assess the utilization of extractive waste, while Sweden has created a UNFC-based inventory of mining waste. Switzerland has conducted a case study on embedded electronics in end-of-life vehicles, and France has applied UNFC to batteries and waste electrical and electronic equipment. Additionally, Ukraine has developed a critical raw materials strategy using UNFC. 

Expert Support 

Leading experts from Europe and beyond expressed their support for UNFC as a vital tool to ensure strategic projects are developed sustainably in the region.  

Milan Grohol, European Commission DG GROW, emphasized, "We want to use UNFC in Europe to ensure that strategic projects are developed sustainably." This sentiment was echoed by Guillaume Bertrand of the French Geological Survey (BRGM), who stated, "I firmly believe that UNFC is crucial to meet EU's ambitions in sustainable resource management." 

UNFC is recognized as a valuable framework for managing resources sustainably, and its application to secondary raw material projects is seen as fostering consistency, transparency, and comparability within the European Union. Pascal Leroy, Director General of the WEEE Forum and an advocate of the UNFC system, emphasized, "Applying UNFC to secondary raw material projects fosters consistency, transparency, and comparability in the EU." 

Leading the charge in supporting and implementing UNFC is the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK). Janne Hokka, representing GTK, stated, "We at GTK fully support integrated sustainable resource management and foresee the benefits of using a single system, such as UNFC." 

These case studies and discussions were presented at a seminar ‘Deploying UNFC in Europe and beyond to assure information for sustainable resource management’, as part of the UNECE Resource Management Week 2023, incorporating the 14th Session of the UNECE Expert Group on Resource Management.