IN THE NEWS Q4 2022:

Dear Reader,

Raw materials, including precious metals, are vital for Europe’s economy and competitiveness. The European Critical Raw Materials Act will address the importance of our industry and society to develop better solutions to improve the availability of metals. This is needed to implement the EU’s Green Deal, including the roll-out of renewable energy technologies and low carbon industrial processes.

The new legislation will improve conditions for recycling in general to ensure that we gain better access to strategic metals and materials for a sustainable future. However, primary production is also needed to shrink the gap between metals demand and production, and in the European bedrock, we have great unused potential. Currently, it takes many years to receive a permit for a mine, a recycling plant or any new industrial facility. Permitting times need to be shortened. The EU should take care of its own waste and recover valuable metals therefrom. Measures to stop illegal waste exports, like electronics, batteries and end-of-life vehicles, outside the EU are also needed.

After all, we are very good at extractive metallurgy and recovery processes. High-quality recycling and responsible mining in the EU can lead our way into a more sustainable future.

Dr. Justin Salminen, Manager – Strategic projects at Boliden Smelters

Critical Raw Materials Act – coherence with REACH is needed


The EPMF fully supports the European Commission’s intention to implement the Critical Raw Materials Act. Precious metals are critical components of many industrial, medical, chemical, electronic and green applications. Precious metals are indeed used in a wide range of applications, and there is no economically and technically feasible alternative. The upcoming Critical Raw Materials Act will be of paramount importance for the EU’s greening and digital progressions. This is the reason why the EPMF suggests paying attention to a usually unaddressed issue, the coherence with other EU legislations, in particular, REACH revision. Precious metals and metals, in general, are critical raw materials due to their increased demand in energy and digital transitions. A majority have hazardous or non-hazardous properties. Solar PV, wind turbines, hydrogen fuel cells, power cables, and digital technologies all contain metals with a defined hazard. Hence, the Critical Raw Materials Act should confirm the need for coherent and effective chemicals legislation. In practice, the Critical Raw Materials Act should ensure that metals in the EU raw materials agenda are not caught up in long, unpredictable, and hazard-driven regulatory processes, not fitting their risk profile. Access to raw materials and adequate chemicals management must work hand in hand without hampering each other. To do so, the EPMF recommends that a screening step is added into the chemicals management process to prioritise substances/uses based on risk and not hazard and check the strategic links to other policy priorities.

Without regulatory coherence, there is a high risk to see critical investments in raw materials in the EU being delayed due to long processes followed by an uncertain or disproportionate outcome.

Guest corner: the upcoming Critical Raw Materials Act  

By Hildegard Bentele, Member of European Parliament Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats)

Europe’s supply of critical raw materials (CRMs) is far too dependent on only a few countries and companies. Over the years and decades, we have allowed whole value chains to move to third countries. Given the rapidly growing demand and monopolistic supply chains, the starting point is far from optimal. But there is good news: We can put ourselves back in the driving seat if we act now. Securing access to CRMs is key for the industrial transition of strategic sectors such as renewable energies, digital industries, health, e-mobility, aerospace, agriculture, security and defence. We finally have a political momentum to shape the regulatory framework. At her “State of the Union“ speech, Commission President von der Leyen officially announced the Critical Raw Materials Act, taking up many issues from my report in the European Parliament: improving monitoring, closing materials gaps, building up strong secondary raw materials markets, diversifying international partnerships with like-minded partners and ensuring access to sustainably sourced primary materials. We need to define projects of strategic relevance and prioritise them. I also believe we will need to install some kind of "CRM alert“ that will allow us to understand the impact of other legislation on strategically relevant metals and materials, such as precious metals. This would allow us to prioritise strategic projects and avoid unintended regulatory hurdles. If we cannot implement the Critical Raw Materials Act correctly, nothing less than European industry is at stake.

Good practice: Critical Raw Materials Act, views by Euromines

By Florian Anderhuber, Director Energy & Climate at Euromines

Euromines, the representative of the EU mining industry welcomes the Commission’s initiative to address the paramount issue of securing the necessary raw materials supply for the green and digital transition. As other world regions and economies are strategically stepping up efforts to secure their own supply or further concentrate their market dominant position, we believe that this act provides a chance to reduce the EU’s vulnerabilities and structural supply risks. The mining industry has argued for years that the absence of a sound Raw Materials Act fostering its own EU production could affect the EU’s ability to achieve green and digital transitions.  With the material footprint of clean energy and digital technology driving up demand in primary raw materials such an act to tackle the crucial issues of time span for permitting and access to finance is more important than ever. For example, a smartphone weighing 130g requires 60kg of material mined from the ground, and behind every electric vehicle are mining operations. Therefore, material extraction and the green and digital transition are profoundly interlinked. To prevent and mitigate unsustainable environmental impacts while avoiding shortages, we believe the Critical Raw Materials Act will boost sustainable and responsible mining practices in the EU and abroad.

#PMFacts: strategically important silver

Platinum Group Metals have been on the Critical Raw Materials list since its origination. That said, other precious metals are also full of unique properties. Let’s discuss the strategically important properties of silver for example. Silver has the lowest contact resistance and the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of any metal, making it essential in Green Technologies' components. Solar panels, rapid charging stations, in-road applications, and certain types of electrodes all require silver. It is used in circuit boards and in some types of batteries when the required conduction speed exceeds what copper can deliver. What is more, silver continues to be used in X-rays and other medical applications. And did you know that the use of silver for water purification continues to this day?

European Precious Metals Federation a.i.s.b.l.
Avenue de Tervueren 168/6,
B-1150 Brussels

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