EU Faces Possible Shortages of Critical Metals
Source: Platts, Andy Blamey (6/17/10)
"The European Commission labeled a selection of 14 raw materials as 'critical.'"
An expert group chaired by the European Commission labeled a selection of 14 raw materials as "critical": antimony, beryllium, cobalt, fluorspar, gallium, germanium, graphite, indium, magnesium, niobium, platinum group metals, rare earths, tantalum and tungsten.
Forecasts indicate that demand might more than triple for a series of critical raw materials by 2030.
"For the critical raw materials, their high supply risk is mainly due to the fact that a high share of the worldwide production mainly comes from a handful of countries: China (antimony, fluorspar, gallium, germanium, graphite, indium, magnesium, rare earths, tungsten), Russia (PGMs), the Democratic Republic of Congo (cobalt, tantalum) and Brazil (niobium and tantalum)," it said.
This production concentration, in many cases, is compounded by low substitutability and low recycling rates, the report added.
"Today's report provides very valuable input for our efforts to ensure that access to raw materials for enterprises will not be hampered. We need fair play on external markets, a good framework to foster sustainable raw materials supply from EU sources as well as improved resource efficiency and more use of recycling," Antonio Tajani, EC vice president in charge of industry and entrepreneurship, said in a statement.
To overcome the current problems, the expert group recommended updating the list of EU critical raw materials every five years and enlarging the scope for criticality assessment; policy actions to improve access to primary resources; policy actions to make recycling of raw materials or raw material-containing products more efficient; encouraging substitution of certain raw materials, notably by promoting research on substitutes for critical raw materials; and improving the overall material efficiency of critical raw materials.