Copper and Co. - Bavaria seeks treasures in the trash

Copper and Co. - Bavaria seeks treasures in the trash

Because commodities such as copper are becoming increasingly valuable, Bavaria's Economics Minister Martin Zeil send out geologists. Experts argue for a higher recycling rate.

They are found in mobile phones, computers, Batteries and fluorescent tubes as well as in wind turbines and electric cars. Rare earth heißt der Rohstoff, of the industry is essential now. This applies in particular Bavaria, where the industry is dependent on the supply of such so-called geogenic raw materials.

Not only rare earth, Gold also, copper, Platinum or industrial minerals, all substances, arising naturally in the earth, worldwide are increasingly in demand.

Therefore, prices pull back on. As the Association of Bavarian industry (vbw) has calculated, is the commodity price index well above the previous year. It is the price development of 42 Metals and minerals from, which are important for the economy.

Above all, tin and iron ore are therefore in demand at a. vbw CEO Bertram Brossardt: “Bavaria has to rely on affordable commodities. We need to have long-term strategies, as we secure the availability of raw materials. "

Weißkalke on the Franconian Alb, Quartz pebbles in Lower Bavaria

The situation seems to be so urgent, that Economics Minister Martin Zeil (FDP) are now looking for high-tech mineral resources in their own country can. Geologists to scour historical mine dumps and previously unused rock deposits in the state for resources.

On the list of substances sought, special Weißkalke, silicon-rich, high-purity quartz and rare earths. In the Franconian Alb could already be detected Weißkalke, which are important for the paper industry. In Lower Bavaria, the geologists quartz gravel deposits in their sights, the silicon industry needs.

“Bavaria is one of the few countries in Germany, invest in the domestic resource exploration ", The minister says. For this investigation, the Ministry 250.000 Euros per year available. This will Zeil “Explore potential, ensure the supply of raw materials in Bavaria ".

Rare earths are now among the most valuable commodities in the world. Because there could be a reduction, formerly unprofitable, now expect. It is also about independence, because 97 Percent of the rare earths from China.

China wants to export go down

The term rare earth elements is misleading. It is neither earth, nor are the substances most often. It's about 17 Metals, Geologically, mass-produced, which can be expensive but only degrade.

Because China is so far neither the environment- cared more about health and safety, the country could reduce the incidents and offer an unrivaled low price on the world market. In the past, the People's Republic of reduced several times, the export quota. In the coming half year, the export will be reduced.

Of trade barriers and shortages was talk. Reason enough for the EU, work to be. Stored in soil as estimated by the Member States in the value of minerals 100 Billion €. Joining Forces, to promote the natural resources, is now the motto. For the necessary technologies is of Brussels 2014 to annually 90 Million € available.

For raw material security companies to pull together

Actually, the fundamental task of the raw material procurement company. The vbw has therefore the Cologne Institute of Economics, IW, commissioned a study on the raw material situation in Bavaria. In summer, the experts presented the results.

Thus will continue to be the assurance of affordable raw materials is a challenge for the company. Risks to their business above all see Chemical Industry, Metal- and electrical industries as well as transports. As a strategy against bottlenecks in the supply of raw materials, the experts also recommend, themselves into networks.

Just have done some German industrial groups already. Under the umbrella of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) have car manufacturers like BMW or companies like Wacker Chemicals a “Alliance for securing raw materials founded ".

“The Alliance is working on building a powerful organization, The raw material is intended to improve security of Germany sustained ", explains BDI Vice President Ulrich Grillo. This company should be involved in resource projects. This includes development and management of resources.

Another route is recommended Horst Wildemann, Head of the Research Institute of Management, Logistics and Production. It focuses on resource efficiency. “The careful and sustainable use of essential commodities is becoming increasingly important ", said Wildemann. “This has nothing to do with, Companies that miss a green coat. This is simply an economic necessity. "

A language, the company understand. And where risks are, since also offer opportunities. According to just see the IW study 27 Percent of German companies in the resource scarcity of economic opportunities. Manufacturers of energy efficiency technologies and provider of alternative substances and substitutes new day dawning.

“Who auszukommt with fewer resources, will have a huge impetus for growth "

Wildemann, who also teaches as a professor at the Technical University of Munich Business, sees the intelligent management of resources, opportunities for business. Even if were previously generated by a resource-oriented corporate culture no increase in profits, is that after Wilde's view of the future.

“This is an automatic: Reduced consumption of raw materials reduces production costs, reduce reliance on suppliers. Technologies necessary for generating new business, acceptance in the society opens up new scope for the pricing. "

Commodities are in Wilde's eyes “Enablers ", to produce something. He is sure: “The one, here has the first new ideas, to use less raw materials, which will have huge growth. "

In addition to saving it's also about recycling. But this is true for raw materials such as rare earths to be extremely complicated and expensive. Wildemann replies: “Because you just have to invest in research and development. The recycling of cars now works almost perfectly. Why should it not be possible with mobile phones?“

Replace copper with aluminum - a challenge

While Wildemann discussed in the next week with leaders of the Bavarian business management at the Munich Conference on Resource Efficiency, some small and medium-sized companies are already acting.

Just as Epcos in Munich, a manufacturer of electronic components for the automotive, Industry- and consumer electronics. The company favors the miniaturization. “We have reduced our components in recent years by a multiple, and at the same power ", says Gerd Schulz, Head of Environmental Affairs for Epcos. This reduces the company the use of raw materials such as copper, Aluminium, Gold, Lithium or niobium.

The ODU Mühldorfer company tries its connector systems, the expensive copper to replace lower-cost aluminum. A technological challenge, because aluminum reacts differently than copper.

Professionals as Monika Nörr, Innovation expert of the Chamber of Commerce for Munich and Upper Bavaria, to see considerable potential for the Bavarian economy. “Many SMEs are already offering innovative technologies and thereby secure a competitive edge. "

Yet: “Modern society will remain for the foreseeable future even more closely on the production of many raw materials from primary sources to rely ", explains Hartwig Frimmel, from the Department of Geodynamics and Geomaterialforschung at the University of Würzburg, and points to the growing world population and the material needs of emerging markets.

The call of the rare earth elements in Bavaria will be the most geologists busy for a while.

Those: Welt Online

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