The Ukraine war with its geopolitical consequences triggered the EU political attention as well as the need for independence from major suppliers, namely China and Russia.
Climate change requires the need of energy transition with the use of green and renewable energy and solutions. This cannot be accomplished without an independent EU, owner and self-responsible of its sources.
“We are experiencing a global race for the supply and recycling of critical raw materials” Commissioner for Internal Market of the European Union Thierry Breton said in a statement.
For this reason, the EU is working on the critical raw materials act, that is, raw materials like metals and rare earths, lithium for instance, considered crucial to the digital and green transition.
Lithium is one of most used materials concerning electric batteries for cars, others are major raw materials for manufacturing turbine blades and for which, at the moment, the wind industry is experiencing huge demand.
As a consequence, the European Commission announced the launch of a Critical Raw Materials Act, due in the first quarter of 2023.
“Electrification, the EU’s self-sufficiency and independence from Russia and China will begin in the mine. We need to strengthen industrial value chains in Europe and create real opportunities for the electrification of our societies. Politics must give the industry the conditions to switch to green and fossil-free production. Here, the Swedish mining industry has a lot to offer. The need for minerals to carry out the transition is great“, says Minister for Energy, Business and Industry, Ebba Busch.
“We need to update our links to reliable countries and key growth regions,” Ursula von der Leyen says and warns “We must avoid becoming dependent again, as we did with oil and gas”.
LKAB, an international high-tech mining, reports a Mineral Resource and further studies in Per Geijer of assets to more than one million tonnes of rare earth metals in the form of Rare Earth Oxides, used to produce Rare Earth Elements (REE).
This would be sufficient to meet a large part of the EU’s future demand for manufacturing the permanent magnets that are needed for electric motors, electric vehicles and wind power turbines.
“We are already investing heavily to move forward, and we expect that it will take several years to investigate the deposit and the conditions for profitably and sustainably mining it. We are humbled by the challenges surrounding land use and impacts that exist to develop this into a mine and that will need to be analysed to see how to avoid, minimize and compensate for it. Only then can we proceed with an environmental review application and apply for a permit” says Jan Moström, President and CEO of LKAB.
Therefore the EU must increase and diversify its critical raw materials supply, strengthen circularity and support research and innovation to never come back.
The proposal, the Raw material act, is targeted to reinforce EU monitoring capacities and strengthen both the EU value chain and raw materials projects in the EU’s strategic interest, with strong environmental protection.
How the EU plans to win the global race for Critical Raw Materials
Europe’s largest deposit of rare earth metals is located in the Kiruna area
The EU’s critical raw materials act
Local resistance, a major stumbling block for EU’s critical raw materials plan
EU to introduce targets for raw materials self-sufficiency