Raw materials are crucial to Europe’s economy. They form a strong industrial base, producing a broad range of goods and applications used in everyday life and modern technologies. Reliable and unhindered access to certain raw materials is a growing concern within the EU and across the globe. To address this challenge, the European Commission has created a list of critical raw materials (CRMs) for the EU, which is subject to a regular review and update. CRMs combine raw materials of high importance to the EU economy and of high risk associated with their supply.
The list of CRMs should help:
The Commission carries out a criticality assessment at EU level on a wide range of non-energy and non-agricultural raw materials. The 2017 criticality assessment was carried out for 61 candidate materials (58 individual materials and 3 material groups: heavy rare earth elements, light rare earth elements, platinum group metals, amounting to 78 materials in total). In 2011, 41 materials were assessed, while 54 materials were assessed in 2014.
The main parameters used to determine the criticality of the material for the EU are:
The new list includes 9 more new materials than the 2014 list: baryte, bismuth, hafnium, helium, natural rubber, phosphorus, scandium, tantalum, vanadium. This brings the number up to 27 raw materials which are now considered critical by the Commission. 3 of these are entirely new to the list: bismuth, helium, phosphorus. The other 17 critical raw materials are included in the CRM table below. For the first time, individual assessment results are available for the 3 grouped metals: HREEs (heavy rare earth elements), LREEs (light rare earth elements), and PGMs (platinum group metals).
All raw materials, even when not classed as critical, are important for the EU economy.
|2017 CRMs (27)|
|Beryllium||Germanium||Natural graphite||Silicon metal|
|Coking coal||Indium||Phosphate rock|
*HREEs=heavy rare earth elements, LREEs=light rare earth elements, PGMs=platinum group metals
The EU’s industry and economy are reliant on international markets to provide access to many important raw materials since they are produced and supplied by third countries. Although the domestic production of certain critical raw materials exists in the EU, notably hafnium, in most cases the EU is dependent on imports from non-EU countries.
China is the major supplier of critical raw materials, accounting for 70% of their global supply and 62% of their supply to the EU (e.g. rare earth elements, magnesium, antimony, natural graphite, etc.). Brazil (niobium), USA (beryllium and helium), Russia (palladium) and South Africa (iridium, platinum, rhodium and ruthenium) are also important producers of critical raw materials. The risks associated with the concentration of production are in many cases compounded by low substitution and low recycling rates.
Countries accounting for largest share of global supply of CRMs
Countries accounting for largest share of EU supply of CRMs