This initiative underscores the pivotal role of raw materials in the green transition, and highlights the significance of the European extractive industries in supplying sustainable raw materials crucial for this transformation.

The workshop took place in Seville and attracted over 40 participants from various countries, including Spain, Hungary, Poland, Belgium, Sweden, France, and Germany. This diverse gathering of social partners engaged in comprehensive discussions about the indispensable role of social dialogue within the extractive industries.

The extractive industries are at a critical juncture. As Europe seeks to decarbonise its economy and reduce its dependency on imported raw materials, the sustainability of its mining operations becomes paramount. Andalusia, a region experiencing a mining revival, provided a fitting backdrop for the workshop. Known for its rich mining history, the region exemplifies the potential and challenges of modernising extractive operations to meet environmental and social standards. 

Throughout the workshop, participants exchanged good practices and insights for enhancing social dialogue. It was agreed that effective communication and collaboration between stakeholders, including workers, companies, and local communities, are essential for reshaping the industries' image and ensuring their sustainability.

European Critical Raw Materials Act

The recently enacted European Critical Raw Materials Act, which aims to increase domestic extraction by 10% in the coming years, was another key topic. This legislation is expected to spur more investments in the sector and will have to deliver when it comes to high-quality jobs. To achieve these goals, strong partnerships between social partners are necessary. 

Good Social Dialogue and Working Conditions

Participants concurred that good social dialogue at both the sector and company levels translates into better working conditions, robust health and safety protection at the workplace, smoother job-to-job transitions, and respect of workers' rights. This comprehensive approach not only improves the working environment, but also helps to change the public perception of the sector, making it more attractive.

Skills Shortage and Education Initiatives

A significant theme that emerged from the discussions was the urgent need to address the skills shortage in the sector, which is strongly linked to job-to-job transition. As the extractive industries evolve, there is a growing demand for a workforce equipped with new competencies related to sustainable practices and advanced technologies. Participants emphasised that social dialogue could play a crucial role in identifying skill gaps and supporting the organisation of targeted training programmes to bridge these gaps. There are numerous initiatives for skills and education involving social partners that could serve as best practices for other countries.

Examples of Just Transition Efforts: Spain, Poland, and Hungary

Each country faces unique challenges on their journey towards a Just Transition in the extractive industries. However, they are all actively seeking solutions through social dialogue.

Poland has made significant strides with two major social agreements: one for hard coal miners in 2021, and another for energy workers and lignite miners in 2022. In Silesia, a region significantly impacted by the coal phase-out, a regional observatory of the transition process was launched, involving workers' and employers' organisations. This observatory aims to monitor and facilitate the transition to new activities, including in mining, ensuring that the interests of all stakeholders are considered. 

Spain also provides a noteworthy example of collaborative efforts. Numerous agreements have been negotiated between ministries, trade unions, and employers' organisations to provide aid measures for workers, companies, and territories affected by the closure of mines. These agreements include the development of Just Transition contracts for the affected regions to create and secure employment in the medium and long term. Additionally, funds have been allocated for the creation of alternative industries and support for environmental restoration. 

In Hungary, the sectoral dialogue committee for extractive industries has seen mixed results. Joint advocacy and collective agreement are challenging due to the current government's limited support for social dialogue. Nonetheless, efforts are ongoing to address the skills needed for future industry demands, such as those related to robotisation, artificial intelligence, and new technologies. Despite these challenges, Hungary’s social partners continue to explore ways to enhance its social dialogue framework and better align it with modern industry needs.
National Frameworks and Stakeholder Engagement

The workshop highlighted the necessity for a supportive framework at national level to facilitate effective social dialogue. Participants called for harmonised policies and frameworks across Europe to ensure that all Member States can support their extractive industries to transition sustainably.
The workshop also showed that effective social dialogue within the industry also lays the groundwork for good dialogue with other stakeholders, including local communities, policymakers, and investors. 

Site Visit and Practical Insights

After the workshop, attendees visited a mining site (MATSA) in Huelva, providing them with a first-hand look at mining practices in Andalusia. This visit reinforced the discussions, illustrating the practical applications of sustainable practices and the benefits of a well-coordinated social dialogue.
In conclusion, the workshop in Seville marked a significant step forward in the SODISEES project aimed at strengthening social dialogue in the extractive industries. By fostering open communication and cooperation among social partners, the project aims to drive sustainable practices across the sector. The insights gained from this workshop will inform the subsequent sessions, ensuring a cohesive and comprehensive approach to achieving a just and sustainable transition for the European extractive industries.