Raw materials are crucial to Europe’s economy and essential to maintaining and improving our quality of life. Securing 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). CRMs combine a high economic importance to the EU with a high risk associated with their supply. Examples of CRMs include rare earth elements, cobalt and niobium.
The list of CRMs should help:
The Commission carries out a criticality assessment at EU level on a wide range of raw materials (in 2010, 41 raw materials were assessed, in 2013, 54 raw materials were assessed). The indicators are:
The criticality assessment was carried out in 2013. 20 raw materials were identified as critical from the list of 54 candidate materials. The extended list of CRMs includes 7 new abiotic materials and 3 biotic materials. In addition, greater detail is provided for rare earth elements by splitting them into heavy rare earth elements, light rare earth elements, and scandium.
|PGMs||Phosphate Rock||REEs (Heavy)||REEs (Light)||Silicon Metal||Tungsten|
This 2013 list includes 13 of the 14 materials identified in the previous report, with only tantalum being removed from the EU critical material list. Six new materials enter the list: borates, chromium, coking coal, magnesite, phosphate rock, and silicon metal. Three of these are entirely new to the assessment. None of the biotic materials assessed were classified as critical. All raw materials, even when not critical, are important for the EU economy.
China is the biggest producer of the 20 EU critical raw materials. Several other countries have dominant supplies of specific raw materials, such as the USA (beryllium), and Brazil (niobium). EU primary supply across all candidate materials is estimated at around 9%. In the case of critical raw materials, supplies from EU sources are even more limited.