Securing access

The struggle for natural resources has triggered not only the EU’s Communication on the access to raw materials but has lead to a whole raft of initiatives and discussions at all levels, EU Member States, EU, OECD and UN.

At the EU level, two working groups were established, one on “Criticality” with the aim to determine which resources are critical for the EU economy and one on “Best practices in land planning”.

Both working groups have begun their work before the summer and will hold 4-5 meetings before concluding their reports in April 2010.

Euromines nominated three experts each for the working groups and is providing the working groups with respective data and comments on methodology, and facts and figures. Apart from specific comments, one major issue remains open. In the eyes of the Commission, the working groups’ remits are limited to providing fact and figures about the situation, but no recommendations on how to resolve the issues. It is not clear at this point whether the Commission (DG Enterprise) wishes to formulate these recommendations itself or leave it to the Member States to conclude on their future measures.

However, Euromines did stress from the beginning that a better coordination between Member States and a regular review mechanism would be needed for a longer-term strategy in order to improve the investments in raw material extraction in Europe. It remains therefore to be discussed in which way currently existing EU structures dealing with these issues can be reinforced with higher-level decisions makers.

Did you know?

Many of the 27 critical raw materials mainly come from a handful of countries: for example, China (antimony, fluorspar, gallium, germanium, graphite, indium, magnesium, rare earths, tungsten), Russia (platinum group metals), the Democratic Republic of Congo (cobalt, tantalum) and Brazil (niobium and tantalum).