IRTC industrial advisor Anthony Ku shares his thoughts on the potential of rebuilding Ukraine: Can rebuilding Ukraine accelerate EU efforts to address its raw materials supply challenges?
In critical materials world, it is easy to get discouraged because it seems like we are always talking about risks, crises, and problems. At the EC Raw Materials Week that took place in November, the agenda included a session on Ukraine that was fascinating in the way it balanced the seriousness of the current on-the-ground situation, with hope about the possibilities for rebuilding the country in the future.
Ukraine is blessed with significant mineral resources, including deposits of rare earth elements, cobalt, and lithium, as well as other valuable materials and has been in discussions with the EU to develop those resources . Immediate plans are on hold, but the conversation about rebuilding has raised some interesting opportunities.
The obvious question is how the process of rebuilding might help deliver on Ukraine’s potential to become a “raw materials resource superpower.” This involves a complex set of decisions on financial investment, infrastructure reconstruction, human capital development, and other capacities that people smarter and more qualified than me will be wrestling with.
A lower profile, but important announcement (in my opinion), was an agreement by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to digitize and make available data from 20,000 documents from the Ukraine Geological Survey (UGS) . This is part of a larger trend towards digitization across a broader swath of Ukrainian society as a matter of modernizing governance and preserving cultural heritage [3,4,5].
This caught my attention because it touches upon a long-standing and well-known issue for people working in the criticality space – data availability. Models and risk assessments are only as good as the inputs, and difficulty of finding timely, complete, and accessible data is a “dirty secret” within the community. There are many conversations about how to “do better” (more on these in future posts), but developments such as the EBRD-UGS announcement are a welcome step in the right direction.
- Andrei Covatariu, 2022, Ukraine’s critical minerals and Europe’s energy transition: A motivation for Russian aggression?, https://www.mei.edu/publications/ukraines-critical-minerals-and-europes-energy-transition-motivation-russian-aggression
- Interfax, 2022, EBRD to provide technical assistance to Ukraine’s State Service of Geology and Mineral Resources, https://interfax.com/newsroom/top-stories/85031/
- Troy Etulain, 2022, Starting Now on Digital Transformation for Ukraine Reconstruction, https://dai-global-digital.com/starting-now-on-digital-transformation-for-ukraine-reconstruction.html
- Carla Lauter, 2022, Before the bombs fall: The race to digitize Ukranian cultural heritage sites, https://www.geoweeknews.com/news/before-the-bombs-fall-the-race-to-preserve-ukranian-cultural-heritage
- Naftogaz, 2021, Naftogaz to create the largest geological database in Ukraine, https://ugv.com.ua/en/page/naftogaz-rozpocav-stvorenna-najbilsoi-v-ukraini-bazi-geologicnih-danih