The European Commission launched the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA) on Tuesday, 29 Sept. ERMA comprises the various stakeholders required to achieve the Commission’s objective to make Europe’s raw materials supply more secure and sustainable. Speakers at the launch included Ministers from Poland, Finland, Austria and Canada, along with the representatives from the Commission, the European Parliament, the European Investment Bank, trade unions, civil society and industry.
Geoscience Ireland (GI) strongly endorses the initiative as partner representing it’s many SME members with interests in the Raw Materials sector (link). GI is joined by over 100 industry partners and associations, including Boliden Tara Mines which operates Europe’s largest zinc mine near Navan in Ireland and Minco Ltd., an Irish zinc explorer. Zinc has significant potential as a battery mineral and Ireland is fortunate to enjoy a substantial zinc endowment.
In its Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) (link), published 3 September, the Commission outlined the current and future challenges regarding Europe’s dependency on third country (non-EU) supply of CRMs. In doing so, the EC added Bauxite, Lithium, Titanium and Strontium to the 2020 CRM list (now comprising 30 materials). Sourcing CRMs in Europe will play a key role in fostering the transition towards a green and digital economy.
Launching the initiative at a well-attended virtual conference yesterday, Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market noted that the launch of ERMA is the first action arising from the CRM Action Plan launched earlier this month. ERMA provides an inclusive platform for government, R&D, industry, regions, unions and civil society to collaborate in ensuring that Europe can safely develop its own mineral resources. Europe also needs to collaborate with third countries in ensuring adequate and competitive supplies of critical materials. All supplies must be sourced subject to the highest environmental and social standards, utilizing the optimal reuse and recycling technologies. Commissioner Breton’s comments were endorsed by Maros Sefcovic, Vice President of the EC, who co-chaired the event.
Sean Finlay of Geoscience Ireland commented “The crucial importance of raw materials is demonstrated by the projected need for minerals crucial to the climate change agenda. For electric vehicle batteries and energy storage, the EU would need up to 18 times more lithium and 5 times more cobalt in 2030, and almost 60 times more lithium and 15 times more cobalt in 2050, compared to the current supply to the whole EU economy. If not addressed, this increase in demand may lead to supply issues. Geoscience Ireland is pleased to support efforts in sourcing and producing safe and sustainable supplies of these materials, both in Europe and further afield.“