The importance of raw materials highlighted today by EC President Ursula von der Leyen

The EU Industry Days 2021 have officially been launched today. In her opening speech European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen highlighted the importance of raw materials several times, especially the critical raw materials essential for a sustainable European future: ‘Green and digital technologies currently depend on a number of scarce raw materials. We import lithium for electric cars, platinum to produce clean hydrogen, silicon metal for solar panels. 98% of the rare earth elements we need come from a single supplier: China. This is not sustainable. So we must diversify our supply chains. And at the same time, we must invest in circular technologies that re-use resources instead of constantly extracting them. This is the goal of our Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials. This is why we have proposed to create a European Raw Materials Alliance.’

Central to our sustainable future progress and prosperity, European industries, heavily reliant on metals and minerals, makes up more than 20% of the EU’s economy and employ around 35 million people. In turn, the raw materials sector represents the basis of all industry, securing a minimum of supply both for the major metals and minerals and for a series of those identified as critical and strategic for the value chains required for the European transition.

The latest developments in terms of population health and safety have added a new economic reality which will have a profound effect on industry in Europe and worldwide. During this period of global economic uncertainty in the short and mid-term, Europe confronts with new challenges that make the ecological and digital transitions more complicated and maintaining economic viability and sustainability, as well as international competitiveness harder.

Attention must focus on value-added chains from the basic production of the core industries to processing and distribution. Keeping strategic value chains with a high industrial share and a high value-add in the EU must be the goal of any industrial strategy.

The European Commission is currently working to update our Industry Strategy. ‘The world will not be the same as it was last March. In the last year, we have seen geopolitics and the model of global competition challenged in a way we have not seen for generations. We have seen, for example, supply chains disrupted and dependencies exposed…. And we are now seeing the start of a global race to recovery across the world which will define the next decade.’ Stated Mrs. von der Leyen.

We have become dependent on highly specialised metals and alloys that require a vast array of raw materials. Many of them are essential in the manufacturing of advanced technological products vital to becoming climate-neutral by 2050.

Improving both sustainability and our overall well-being is only possible through innovation and better applications. Europe’s mining industry supplies metals and minerals that make these new developments possible.

Demand for raw materials is projected to double by 2050, making diversified sourcing essential to increase Europe’s security of supply. Strategic and critical raw materials are crucial for sectorial value chains, such as e-mobility, batteries, renewable energies, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, defence and digital applications.
Euromines welcomes the EC support for the European Industry and is prepared to support these ambitious goals.

Read the opening speech by President von der Leyen(link is external) at the EU Industry Days 2021 at the EC website.

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