Saturday, 28 June 2014

Critical Raw Materials for the EU

Raw materials are fundamental to Europe’s economy, growth and jobs and are essential for maintaining and improving quality of life. Securing reliable, sustainable access to certain raw materials is of growing concern within the EU and across the globe and the Raw Materials Initiative was instigated to manage responses to raw materials issues at an EU level. At the heart of this work is defining the critical raw materials for the EU’s economy.

These critical raw materials have a high economic importance to the EU combined with a high risk associated with their supply. SusChem has been involved with the work of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Defining Critical Raw Materials and a revised report has recently been published.

The latest version of the report on Critical Raw Materials for Europe was completed at the end of May and has recently been published with associated materials profiles and extra annexes with additional information.

SusChem has contributed to the Ad Hoc Working Group in particular helping to widen the scope of the report.

In the original report published in 2010 14 critical raw materials were identified from a candidate list of 41 non-energy, non-agricultural materials. During 2013 54 non-energy, non-agricultural materials were analysed using the same quantitative methodology as previously: the economic importance of the material and the supply risk.

The overall results of the 2013 criticality assessment are shown below with the critical raw materials highlighted in the red shaded zone (top right).

Specifically 20 critical raw materials were identified from the new list of 54 candidate materials: Antimony, Beryllium, Borates, Chromium, Cobalt, Coking coal, Fluorspar, Gallium, Germanium, Indium, Magnesite, Magnesium, Natural Graphite, Niobium, Platinum Group Metals (PGMs), Phosphate Rock, Heavy Rare Earth Elements (REEs), Light Rare Earth Elements (REEs), Silicon Metal, and Tungsten

This new list includes thirteen of the fourteen materials identified in the previous report, with only tantalum (due to a lower supply risk) moving out of the EU critical material list. Six new materials enter the list: borates, chromium, coking coal, magnesite, phosphate rock and silicon metal.

In its 2011 Communication on raw materials (COM (2011)25 of 2 February 2011) the Commission adopted the first list and stated that it would continue to monitor the issue of critical raw materials in order to identify priority actions. It also committed to undertake a regular review and update of this list at least every 3 years. The new report contains recommendations on how to improve the next revision which is planned to start in 2016.

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