European Geologist Journal 44

Clearing the sky from the clouds – The Mineral Intelligence Capacity Analysis (MICA) project

Erika Machacek*,1, W. Eberhard Falck2, Claudia Delfini3, Lorenz Erdmann4, Evi Petavratzi5, Ester van der Voet6, Daniel Cassard7

 Centre for Minerals and Materials (MiMa), Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Øster Voldgade 10, 1350 Copenhagen, Denmark

2  Minpol GmbH, Dundlerinweg 120/1,  2753 Dreistetten, Austria

3 EuroGeoSurveys (EGS), Rue Joseph II 36-38, Brussels 1000, Belgium

4 Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI), Breslauer Strasse 48, 76139 Karlsruhe, Germany

5 British Geological Survey (BGS), Environmental Science Centre, Nicker Hill, Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5GG, UK

University of Leiden – Institute of Environmental Sciences (UL-CML), Rapenburg 70, Leiden 2311 EZ, Netherlands

BRGM, GeoResources Directorate, 3 avenue Claude-Guillemin,  45060, Orleans, France



MICA develops the EU-RMICP with an innovative visualization interface that guides the user to a ‘recipe’ for how to find answers to particular mineral raw material related questions. This is different from a database providing pre-formulated answers to questions: MICA offers an expert-designed pathway towards answers by means of an exhaustive catalogue of data sources and peer-reviewed information with relevance to the user question. Thus, MICA enables the user to explore data, acquire information and build up knowledge,rather than being given narrow, pre-formulated answers. The MICA Platform endeavours to cater for profes­sional as well as general public stakeholders.


Of all project partners, 16 partners are direct beneficiaries – namely the Geological Surveys of the UK (BGS), Germany (BGR), France (BRGM), Slovenia (GeoZS), Denmark (GEUS), Finland (GTK), as well as the European Federation of Geologists (EFG), EuroGeoSurveys (EGS), and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission, alongside Fraunhofer-ISI, the La Palma Research Centre (LPRC), Minpol GmbH, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), University College London (UCL), Joseph Fournier University, Grenoble (UJF) and the University of Leiden‘s Institute of Environmental Sciences (UL-CML). Another 15 linked third parties support the project, namely the Geological Surveys of Albania (AGS), Romania (GIR), Belgium (GSB), Cyprus (GSD), Ireland (GSI), Croatia (HGI-CGS), Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (IGME-Greece), Spain – the Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (IGME), the Instituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA, Italy), the Laboratorio Nacional de Energia e Geologia I.P. (LNEG, Portugal), and geological research organisations in Hungary (MBFSZ), Norway (NGU), Poland (PGI-NRI), Sweden (SGU) and Switzerland (Swisstopo).

This paper aims to outline the Mineral Intelligence Capacity Analysis (MICA) project for developing the European Union-Raw Materials Intelligence Capacity Platform (EU-RMICP). Mineral raw materials are fundamental to Europe’s economy and further development. The MICA project represents a response to previous raw material initiatives (COM(2008)699[1], the “Report on critical raw materials for the EU” (EC, 2010[2]; 2014[3]), COM(2011)21[4], COM(2011)25[5], as well as COM(2012)82[6]). Various projects related to mineral raw materials, all of which contribute towards the development of the EU-RMICP, have been funded in EU Framework Programmes as a result of this increased awareness, notably ProMine, EuroGeoSource, EURare, Minventory, Minerals4EU, ProSUM, I2Mine, EO-Miners, MINATURA2020 and others, and most recently the Knowledge and Innovation Community, EIT KIC Raw Materials was set up. MICA aims to synthesise the outcomes of previous projects and other initiatives into a stakeholder-tailored service – the “European Raw Materials Intelligence Capacity Platform” (EU-RMICP)

Project structure

MICA has a total project duration of 26 months (1 December 2015 to 31 January 2018) and a budget of EUR 2 million. A total of 31 partners are working on the project (see box, above). The project is structured into seven work packages (WP) that are interwoven and feed into each other (Figure 1). The project management is undertaken in WP1 (led by GEUS); WP2 (led by Fraunhofer-ISI) identifies and defines stakeholder groups and their Raw Material Intelligence (RMI) requirements; WP3 (led by BGS) consolidates relevant data on primary and secondary raw materials; WP4 (led by UL-CML) determines appropriate methods and tools to satisfy stakeholder RMI requirements; WP5 (led by Minpol) investigates RMI-options for European mineral policy development; WP6 (led by BRGM) develops the EU-RMICP integrating information on data and methods/tools with a user interface capable of satisfying stakeholder needs; and WP7 (led by EGS) disseminates the project’s results.

Figure 1: Outline of the MICA project structure.

Stakeholder identification and stakeholder needs

As of today, a range of outputs (‘deliverables’) have been produced in MICA, as summarised below. A systematic inventory was undertaken that mapped 90 stakeholder groups (Erdmann et al., 2016) according to three criteria legitimacy, power, and urgency of their issues (see Figure 2). The so-called ‘definitive’ stakeholders include, among others, those formally involved in the MICA project such as the geological surveys, public research institutes, universities, research and technology organisations, as well as intelligence institutes, professional organisations, industry (mining and extraction, production, recycling and material recovery, etc.), innovation initiatives, project management agencies, and ministries (economic affairs, education and research). ‘Dominant’ and ‘dependent’ stakeholders were considered in the comprehensive survey of raw material information needs. The manufacturing industry and governments represent dominant stakeholders. Business sectors that could potentially be affected by minerals RMI, such as e.g. the tourism industry or the bio-based industry, as well as civil society organisations e.g. environmental NGOs and human rights NGOs, are examples of dependent stakeholders.

Figure 2: Ninety stakeholders mapped to six stakeholder groups (after Mitchell et al., 1997). Types of treatment: surveys (in bold), stakeholder workshop (underlined) and interviews (in italics). Indirect appraisal in the surveys is marked with an asterix (*). 

MICA provided an empirical appraisal of RMI needs of stakeholders (Erdmann et al., 2017) through three online surveys: one was conducted by EuroGeoSurveys reaching almost two thirds of its member geological surveys, another one by EFG to enhance the knowledge and understanding of raw material information needs of professional geologists as potential users of EU-RMICP, and a third industry survey reached out to strategic management of industry associations, covering large parts of the material supply chain from raw materials processing to recycling. A stakeholder workshop and 20 interviews with representatives from NGOs and industry, EU agencies, ministries, cities, finance, education, and consumers were also conducted. The outcome of these surveys, the stakeholder workshop and interviews were condensed into a map of stakeholder needs in RMI that facilitated the finalisation of the ‘MICA ontology’, which is tailored towards the identified stakeholder topics of interest.

The ontology

In MICA, the Main Multi-dimensional Ontology represents the domain of questions end users may have about mineral resources/raw materials, see Figure 3 (Cassard et al., 2016). It is used for supporting a Dynamic Decision Graph (DDG) which allows the end users to navigate and visualise the MICA database content and the relationships between the different techniques, and to search for the most appropriate method(s) and tool(s) to use for resolving the user query (Cassard et al., 2016). Depending on the users’ preference or skills, a more or less ‘visualised’ and ‘assisted’ approach to their research is supported.


Figure 3: The multidimensional ontology to support the DDG.

The ontology consists of seven domains, as presented in Figure 4, with about 300 concepts and sub-concepts (Cassard et al., 2016). The main ontology and transversal ‘generic’ ontologies were developed collaboratively and interactively within the project, based on a survey performed by WP2 during the project kick-off meeting and drawing on experts from the project. To ensure that the main ontology represents end user (e.g., politicians, representatives of the EC, from governmental agencies, NGOs, academia and the general public) expectations or questions, it was informed by surveys undertaken in WP2, 3, 4 and 5, and thus its perimeter and depth/granularity improved. The main ontology is accompanied by three transversal, more ‘generic’ ontologies covering ‘Value/Supply chains’, ‘Space/Time’, and ‘Commodities’ that allow the end user to specify some fundamental ‘search’ parameters in order to speed up the discovery of the answer: where in the supply chain, which commodities, and where geographically (i.e., EU level, national level) and when (past/present/future).

Figure 4: Domains used by the MICA ontology.

Raw materials data inventory

Data and information are the foundation of any decision-making process, as they enable the creation of knowledge and intelligence and therefore are essential to the MICA knowledge management system (EU-RMICP) that MICA develops. The ‘Data – Information – Knowledge – Intelligence’ (DIKI) hierarchy shown in Figure 5 represents a conceptual framework for defining the terms and describing the levels of interpretation and analysis needed to move from data to intelligence. RMI depends very much on asking the right questions, and having the right underlying knowledge to act and move forward with decision-making. Although data, information, knowledge and intelligence are presented in a hierarchical order, in reality iterative processes operate throughout the process to enable movement from the lowest level of the pyramid to the top.

Figure 5: From data to intelligence.

MICA delivers an inventory of raw materials data, which consists of approximately 408 metadata records that give descriptive information on datasets. The development of the metadata structure and template, as well as the final inventory, the relationships between data and methods, and work undertaken on data uncertainty are described in the WP3 deliverables (see Petavratzi et al., 2016; Petavratzi and Brown, 2017). The data inventory communicates with the EU-RMICP and therefore users can gain access to data tailored to their needs through the platform by navigating to topics of interest. An online data portal will also be available (, which includes metadata information about various datasets and inventories (e.g. geoportals, life cycle analysis databases), contextual information (e.g. reports), articles from scientific journals, legal documents, maps and projects, among others. The metadata template (Figure 6) is based on ISO 19115 (2014) and is aligned with the INSPIRE Directive requirements and implementing rules for metadata (EC & JRC, 2013).

Figure 6: Fields of the metadata template.

(In)visible guidance of users by experts

Based on the stakeholder needs elucidated in WP2 and expert opinions, mineral raw materials relevant knowledge is condensed into documents, the so-called ‘FactSheets’ and ‘DocSheets’. These will be the end point at which a user query will arrive and will provide the user with essential supporting information, data and knowledge. These FactSheets/DocSheets cover a variety of methods by which RMI can be gathered as well as topics of interest aligned to identified stakeholder needs.

Methods for data use

The FactSheets of methods for RMI are essential to put data into context within the EU-RMICP (van der Voet et al., 2016a). They address methods to identify and assess geological and anthropogenic (urban) stocks (including geological mapping methods also applicable to secondary stocks e.g. landfills or underground hibernating stocks). The methods comprise two categories: a) to account for stocks in use, and b) to follow them through society together with their impacts, e.g. Material Flow Analysis (MFA); Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) within the context of Life Cycle Sustainability Analysis for the life-cycle of materials, environmental footprinting, economic aspects of resource use (Cost Benefit Analysis; Econometric and Computable General Equilibrium models; criticality assessment), as well as scenario analysis for future resource use. These methods have been assessed as to their usefulness to help answer stakeholders’ questions; see excerpt from the exercise in Figure 7 (van der Voet et al., 2016b).

Figure 7: Excerpt from contribution of methods to answering stakeholder questions.

In addition, more than 100 other FactSheets and DocSheets on identified topics are being elaborated by project collaborators with particular knowledge and expertise. These sheets undergo a peer-review process and are then revised. The documents therefore represent a unique and qualified source of information in EU-RMICP.

The so-called FlowSheets are in essence recipes that come into play upon specific queries by the end user and prescribe the flow of data and information, e.g., which DocSheets/FactSheets and which datasets should be used, following a certain order, to solve the query of the end user. The content of the FlowSheets will be visible to the end user and reflects expert knowledge that was at play when these were designed.

Policy relevance and foresight

MICA also delivered a discussion and summary of RMI tools and methods, including an assessment of the EU Raw Material Initiative, which provides a general framework for a mineral policy but lacks systematic RMI in the EU (Falck et al., 2016). A multi-dimensional matrix serves to outline the various RMI dimensions, the main dimensions being the minerals policy frameworks and their governing principles at national, European, and global level, stakeholder needs and expectations (e.g., the mechanisms of minerals policy frameworks) (see Figure 7), and methods and strategies to predict future development in the use, demand, and supply of minerals.

Figure 8: Mechanisms of minerals policy framework (adapted from Tiess, 2011).

Furthermore, a foresight logframe was elaborated (Konrat Martins and Bodo, 2016) that reviews international foresight case studies based on an inventory structured into three classes: quantitative, macro-environmental, and a methods–combination–suitability matrix. The quantitative classification addresses measurable aspects, such as the number of people and institutions involved. The macro-environmental classification outlines large-scale environmental factors that were the object of study, while the matrix of methods, combinations and suitability reviews the methods observed in the study.


The MICA graphical identity is used in promotion material distributed at numerous events including the EGS MREG meeting 2015, the 7th session of the UNECE Expert Group of Resource Classification, and the World Circular Economy Forum 2017, in accordance with its communication strategy and dissemination plans (Delfini et al., 2016). Information about MICA’s progress can be obtained also via various social media (Delfini, 2017): Twitter (@micaproject2015), LinkedIn (, and Facebook ( News and deliverables are available from the MICA project website:


By project completion in January 2018, a raw materials data and methods strategy and a conceptual framework for the transformation of data into knowledge will have been delivered with the EU-RMICP. The ambition of the EU-RMCIP is to help stakeholders find answers to raw materials related questions, even if they have no experience and knowledge of using one of the spatial geoportals, raw materials databases, or other related tools and methods. It is hoped that this will help stakeholders to better understand how data, methods and raw materials-related decisions will impact their daily life.


The MICA team gratefully acknowledges funding received from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 689648.

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Cassard, D., Ziebelin, D. and Tomas, R. (2016). Note accompanying the release of the first stabilized version of the MICA Dynamic Decision Graph (DDG). H2020-Project MICA, Deliverable D6.0: 24 p.,

Delfini, C., Ovadia, D., Correia, V. (2016) Communication Strategy. H2020-Project MICA, Deliverable D7.3: 24 p.,

Delfini, C. (2017) MICA Social Network. H2020-Project MICA, Deliverable D7.4: 12 p.,

Erdmann, L.; Eckartz, K.; Moller, B.; Tercero Espinoza, L.A.; Teufel, B.; Fuchs, M.; Machacek, E.; Thorsøe, K.; Petavratzi, E.; Brown, T.; Voet, E. van der; Falck, E.; Bisevac, V.; Hofmeister, T.; Quental, L.; Katalin, S.; Radwanek-Bak, B.; Arnbom, J.-O. (2016): Stakeholder Identification and Analysis. H2020-Project MICA, Deliverable D2.1: 115 p.,

Erdmann, L.; Moller, B.; Tercero Espinoza, L.A.; Oers, L. van; Bisevac, V.; Correia, V.; Delfini, C.; Thorsøe, K.; Falck, E.; Petavratzi, E.; Lauinger, D.; Radwanek-Bak, B.; Arnbom, J.-O. (2017): Stakeholder Needs. H2020-Project MICA, Deliverable D2.2: 78 p.,

[1]EC and JRC (2013). INSPIRE Metadata Implementing Rules: Technical Guidelines based on EN ISO 19115 and EN ISO 19119. European Commission Joint Research Centre.

Falck, W.E., Tiess, G., Murguia, D., Machacek, E., Domenech, T., Hamadová, T. (2016) Raw Materials Intelligence Tools and Methods. H2020-Project MICA, Deliverable D5.1: 36 p.,

[1]ISO 19115-1:2014. Geographic information – Metadata – Part 1 – Fundamentals.

Konrat Martins, M., Bodo, B. (2016) Report on Foresight Logframe. H2020-Project MICA, Deliverable D5.3: 30 p.,

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Petavratzi, E. and Brown, T. (2017) Final inventory of data on raw materials. H2020-Project MICA, Deliverable D3.2: 37p.,

Petavratzi, E., Brown, T. & Passmore, J. (2016) Draft inventory of data on raw material. H2020-Project MICA, Deliverable D3.1: 36 p.,

van der Voet, E., Shaw, R., Petavratzi, E., van Oers, L., Kirkwood, C., Fleming, C., Flachenecker, F., Domenech, T., Brown, T., Bleischwitz, R., Bide, T. (2016a) Factsheets of Methods for Raw Materials Intelligence. H2020-Project MICA, Deliverable D4.1: 182 p.,

van der Voet, E., van Oers, L. van, Huele, R. (2016b) Mapping of MICA methods to stakeholder questions. H2020-Project MICA, Deliverable D4.2: 34p.,

This article has been published in European Geologist Journal 44 – Geology and a sustainable future.

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