European Union moves to secure its critical mineral supply chain

11 September 2023 | Muriel Cozier

MEPs call for a focus on innovation to develop substitute materials and processes that could replace raw materials.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Industry Research and Energy (ITRE) has adopted a draft Critical Raw Materials Act. The measures are aimed at boosting the supply of strategic raw materials that are ‘crucial to secure the EU’s transition towards a sustainable, digital, and sovereign future’.

The Act highlights the importance of securing strategic partnerships between the EU and third countries on critical raw minerals so that the EU can diversify its supply, with benefits for all sides. The Act also sets out long-term partnerships that include knowledge and technology transfer, along with ethical extraction and processing in the partner countries.

MEPs also called for a focus on innovation to develop substitute materials and processes that could replace the raw materials, as well as targets for securing the raw materials from waste.

Lead MEP Nicola Beer commented: ‘Instead of having far too many ideology-driven subsidies [the Act] relies on fast and simple approval processes and reducing red tape. In response to geopolitical upheavals, it creates the pre-conditions to offer targeted economic incentives to private investors in the context of production and recycling in Europe.’

Earlier this week, the US government announced $150 million in funding to strengthen domestic critical mineral supply chains. The funding will be used to advance cost effective and environmentally responsible processes to produce and refine critical minerals and materials in the US. According to the US Geological Survey’s National Mineral Information Centre, the US is completely reliant on foreign sources for 12 minerals.

In May this year, an independent UK government group on critical minerals resilience held its first meeting. The group will advise on where dependencies exist in the UK’s critical minerals supply chains and how industry can protect its supply.

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