The Digital Divining Rod: How AI Contributes to a More Resilient Supply of Raw Materials (cepInput)

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It is essential for Europe's transformation into a digital and sustainable economy to secure supplies of rare metals such as lithium and cobalt. Until now, information on raw material deposits has been patchy and detected at random. On average, only one out of a hundred searches for materials are successful. The Centrum für Europäische Politik (cep) therefore advises using artificial intelligence (AI). According to initial practical tests, the success rate would increase by 25 times and make Europe less dependent on third countries.


"The European Union should massively promote the use of AI for the exploration of new raw material deposits and in the awarding of exploration and mining licences," demands cep digital expert Anselm Küsters, who wrote the study with cep economist André Wolf. However, it must be ensured that the systems are fed with high-quality data and that the final control is carried out by humans, explains Küsters. The use of AI could also help prevent the long-term emergence of non-European monopolies in this segment. The cep researchers address their recommendations to the Commission, which plans to present the so-called Critical Raw Materials Act soon.

According to Wolf, using AI increases cost efficiency and search speed. "The social follow-up costs of mining can be significantly reduced," emphasises the cep expert, who researches new technologies. He says the EU law must include AI-based exploration technologies as an essential building block. It is also important that the algorithms provide information about expected environmental effects. In addition, they should also be made usable in the medium term for developing a recycling economy for critical metals in Europe.