In a State of the Union speech last week , EU President Ursula von der Leyen revealed a European Critical Raw Materials Act which plans to strengthen EU minerals supplies.
“We need to avoid being stuck in the kind of dependence we now see with oil and gas [and Russia],” she said.
In her speech, Von der Leyen warned that almost 90% of global rare earths and 60% of lithium are processed in China.
She insisted action needs to be taken to ensure diversification, noting that the European Critical Raw Materials Act will identify potential strategic projects and build up reserves where supply was at risk.
“Our twin green and the digital transition will live or die through the functioning of our supply chains.
“The Critical Raw Materials Act should provide a shared understanding of which critical raw materials can be considered as particularly strategic. This requires setting criteria for identifying raw materials which are of particular strategic relevance for our twin transition and defence needs, including economic importance, supply concentration, strategic applications and forecasted supply gaps,” he said.
The EU stance represents a welcome recognition of the weakness of its supply chains for minerals. Encouraging public support for the development of critical minerals remains a major challenge for political and civic leaders and for industry.