The French Minister for Energy Transition, Mrs Agnès Pannier-Runacher, attended the launch of OFREMI. © BRGM - C. Boucley
Outstanding result / OFREMI: Pooling expertise in order to better analyse and explain
OFREMI brings together the expertise of six partners – BRGM, the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA), the French Petroleum and New Energies Institute (IFPEN), the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI), and the French National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts (CNAM) – with a view to strengthening the resilience and sovereignty of France’s strategic industrial sectors. How? By drawing on “mineral intelligence”, i.e. knowledge, understanding and analyses of raw material value chains, to ensure a secure and responsible supply of mineral resources, and particularly critical metals.
Shortly after its inauguration, OFREMI held its first strategic committee meeting in January 2023. The meeting was used to establish the Observatory’s initial roadmap, in collaboration with the public authorities (all the ministries involved in the field of raw materials) and the associated industrial sectors. “The Observatory is responsible for providing ongoing technical, economic and strategic analyses on which to base collective discussions and decision-making, by identifying potentially hidden weaknesses in the value chains, promoting the diversification of supply chains and facilitating investment decisions,” explained Christophe Poinssot, Deputy Managing Director of BRGM, at the launch of OFREMI.
Christophe Poinssot, Deputy Managing Director and Scientific Director of BRGM during his speech at the launch of OFREMI. © BRGM - C. Boucley
Supply-chain security and ESG concerns
While current energy and digital transition policies have increased the need for mineral resources, supplies can be vulnerable to geopolitical, social and logistical tensions, or climate-related issues. The recent Covid pandemic and the current war in Ukraine have underlined this vulnerability. However, today, achieving supply-chain security must also take into account the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, which guide sourcing and investment decisions. “Manufacturers must increasingly demonstrate that their procurements are responsibly sourced, which means having knowledge about the entire value chain, from the mine to the finished product,” says Stéphane Bourg, Director of OFREMI at BRGM. “Due to its wide range of expertise, OFREMI makes this kind of study possible.” Indeed, the partners’ combined expertise covers market mapping and economics, resource geology, key technologies, geopolitical risks and environmental impacts.
OFREMI’s other strength lies in its access to data, which is “a decisive factor for the quality of analyses!” explains the director. “Drawing on the expertise of OFREMI’s partners, supported by public authorities and the related industrial sectors, enables us to pool tools and resources and have access to a wide-range of consistent data sets, in order to work on every aspect of the value chains.” The Observatory’s experts will be able to carry out (authorised) visits to mining or industrial sites.
150 people from a wide range of fields attended the launch of OFREMI. © BRGM - C. Boucley
Continuous market monitoring
OFREMI’s studies – some of which are public – will cover different scopes and scales, conducted on a case-by-case basis either for government departments, or to support public policy decision-making, or for an entire industrial sector (in order to make the information available to all the sector’s stakeholders), or for a particular industrial company, on a given issue. Links may also be established with research projects conducted by BRGM and its partners, in particular the PEPR1 Subsurface programme, or the European Maditrace project on traceability. “OFREMI will create synergies between applied studies and research into raw-materials value chains,” says Stéphane Bourg.
Finally, global supply chains and industrial-sector needs will be continuously monitored from a strategic, economic and technical viewpoint. This market watch will ensure that OFREMI can respond quickly and effectively to any request received through its hotline: “If a crisis or tensions were to arise, we would quickly be able to provide relevant information, within 24 to 72 hours, to help public, industrial and economic players define the best possible responses.”
(1)Priority Research Programme and Equipment