From 14.-15.02.2011, the first Freiberg Symposium on Resource Technology took place. Around 200 guests from other universities, research institutes and industry concerned with issues of the assured raw materials supply took up the invitation. The Symposium can be described as a launch event for the setting up of a Strategic Resources Institute in Freiberg. At the end of last year, the Federal German Ministry for Education and Research gave Freiberg University of Mining and Technology and the Dresden Centre of the Helmholtz Association, which also organized the Symposium, the go-ahead for the establishment of such an institute and plans to make € 5 million per year available for this purpose. As a national research institute, it is set to start work before the end of this year. The objective is to help Germany in global competition gain permanent access to the urgently needed mineral- and metal-bearing raw materials. To achieve this objective, studies on materials exploration, extraction, processing, utilization as well as recycling are needed. In this connection, it is important to create a scientific basis as well as to develop innovative technologies. Another focus will be the training of specialists for the raw materials sector.
The organizers (Fig.) provided a first insight into the sphere of activity of the new institute. Issues were addressed concerning the increasing scarcity of raw materials, opportunities for mining (in Germany too), processing and recycling of primary and secondary raw materials and the strategic challenges for the resources industry. At the event, leading scientists and prominent representatives of the German raw-material-processing industry formulated their expectations for the new research institute. Guest speakers from industry included Dr. Bernd Drouven (Aurubis) and Dr. Christian Hagelüken (Umicore Precious Metals Refining), Prof. Dr. Oliver Langefeld (TU Clausthal) and Prof. Dr. Hermann Wotruba (RWTH Aachen). The newly founded National Raw Materials Agency was represented by its director, Dr. Volker Steinbach. Jens Gutzmer, Professor of Economic Geology and Petrology at Freiberg University of Mining and Technology and one of the future senior scientists at the new Institute, affirmed that the concept presented could be further refined through discussion with professional colleagues at the symposium.