The European Union has set in motion a scheme whose aim is to help secure access to 30 fundamental raw materials. This will be done by promoting the recycling of critical elements, especially rare earth elements (REEs), and by growing domestic production. The collaboration of 300 governments, business associations and firms will help the European Raw Materials Alliance Center (ERMA) reduce Europe’s import dependence from resource-rich nations, particularly China.
China is the main exporter for the EU’s rare earth elements, making up 98% of the union’s imports. Other countries that provide imports include Brazil, which provides the European Union with 85% of niobium from its mines. This element makes up steel alloys that are used in oil pipelines, girders and jet engines. In addition, South Africa supplies 71% of its total mined platinum while Chile supplies 78% of lithium to Europe. Turkey also provides 98% of the total borate mined in the nation to Europe.
A recent statement by Bernd Schäfer, chief executive of EIT Raw Materials, notes that ERMA’s main duty is to obtain supply for raw materials in Europe through the identification of investment opportunities that are not only sustainable but that also offer access to raw materials in a socially responsible way from both secondary and primary sources in Europe.
The increases in prices of various commodities led to inventory growth in critical materials in 2011 in Europe. This figure has more than doubled in the past 10 years. Earlier in September, a body based in Belgium added strontium, a component used in EV magnets, as well as titanium, bauxite and lithium, which are used for orthopedic implants and in aerospace, to the list.
Analysts estimate that by the year 2050, EU countries will require about 15 times the amount of cobalt they are consuming currently and nearly 60 times the current lithium consumption. These elements are used in energy storage and in electric vehicle batteries. In the same period of time, forecasts show that the demand for rare earth elements in the European Union will grow tenfold. These elements are used in military applications and high-tech devices.
There is hope though, with Maroš Šefčovič, EU commissioner, confirming that by 2025, Europe may be independent of some critical materials. He stated that he was confident that Europe would be 80% self-reliant with regard to lithium.
Additionally, he stated that almost 15 giga-factories would be opened in Europe in nations such as Sweden, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Germany, France and Italy. Forecasts show that in less than five years, these plants will supply cells that can power no less than 6 million electric vehicles.
Furthermore, the union plans to implement green standards for battery mineral extraction. This will help decrease the material and carbon footprint of batteries that are imported into or manufactured by Europe. These standards will be announced on Dec. 9.
Worldwide, lots of mining firms are engaged in making sure that needed minerals reach the industries that require them. One of the most notable mining sector players in this regard is GoldHaven Resources Corp. (CSE: GOH) (OTCQB: ATUMF). It acquires and then explores properties known to contain mineral resources.
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