EU assembles critical minerals alliance
450-plus organizations advancing Europe's green economy Metal Tech News – March 3, 2021
Last updated 3/9/2021 at 5:02pm
Understanding that diverse and reliable supplies of critical minerals and metals are vital to the renewable energy, electric vehicles, and high-tech sectors, the European Union has set in motion a plan for more resilient supplies of these raw materials that will ensure Europe's ambition for a green and digital future.
"We import lithium for electric cars, platinum to produce clean hydrogen, silicon metal for solar panels. 98% of the rare earth elements we need come from a single supplier – China. This is not sustainable," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a speech at EU Industry Days 2021. "So, we must diversify our supply chains. And at the same time, we must invest in circular technologies that reuse resources instead of constantly extracting them. This is the goal of our Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials."
Introduced by the European Commission last September, the EU Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials has five overarching objectives:
• Develop resilient value chains for EU industrial ecosystems.
• Reduce dependency on primary critical raw materials through recycling, sustainable products, and innovation.
• Strengthen sourcing of raw materials within the EU.
• Diversify sourcing from countries outside of the EU and remove distortions to international trade.
"By diversifying the supply from third countries and developing the EU's own capacity for extraction, processing, recycling, refining and separation of rare earths, we can become more resilient and sustainable," Thierry Breton, commissioner for internal market at the European Commission, said at the time.
EU Raw Materials Alliance
Establishing the European Raw Materials Alliance, which is tasked with securing access to critical and strategic raw materials and processing technologies for EU industrial ecosystems, was the first order of business on the EU critical materials action plan.
Managed by EIT RawMaterials, which was founded in 2008 by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, now established EU Raw Materials Alliance is committed to ensuring Europe has an adequate supply of the raw materials that "are indispensable drivers for the transformation from the brown to the green economy."
"Raw materials play a vital role in the revival, autonomy and resilience of Europe's industrial ecosystems," said EIT RawMaterials CEO Bernd Schäfer.
EIT RawMaterials has already assembled an impressive group of relevant stakeholders that include companies along critical mineral supply chains, countries and regions associated with these supply chains, trade unions, universities and research organizations, investors, and non-governmental organizations.
"The European Raw Materials Alliance has grown to over 450 members, from Greenland to Australia," Schäfer added.
This group is expected to help coordinate and direct funds to the supply chains need to support the energy and technology transition envisioned for the EU.
"Over 100 investment cases are currently being evaluated, and we are committed to creating sustainable, responsible, and resilient value chains to boost Europe's green and digital transition," said Schäfer.
This large and diverse assembly of talent and perspectives also serves as a brain trust for ensuring EU has plentiful and sustainable supplies of the critical raw materials required for the low-carbon future envisioned in the European Green Deal – a roadmap for making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
"Besides its role in boosting investments in the raw materials sectors and increasing EU's resilience, the European Raw Materials Alliance is a funnel for recommendations on specific actions that are economically, socially and environmentally sound and responsible, to the benefit of the whole community," said EU Raw Material Alliance director Massimo Gasparon.
These benefits are expected to include a more resilient European economy through the diversification of supply chains, creation of jobs, attracting investments to EU's raw materials value chain, fostering innovation, training young talent, and helping to establish a roadmap for critical raw material supply chains and the global circular economy.