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European Raw Materials Alliance presents implementation steps to secure raw materials supply

Two months after the launch of the European Raw Materials Alliance by the European Commission, ERMA became officially operational today. An impressive number of over 300 partners from industry, research, government institutions and civil society came together to discuss how Europe’s raw materials supply can be secured in order to enable the EU’s green and digital transition.

"Without reliable and sustainable access to raw materials, the Green Deal and the EU’s competitiveness are at stake. ERMA's most important task is to secure raw materials supply in Europe by identifying investment opportunities for sustainable and socially responsible access to raw materials in Europe from primary and secondary sources."

ERMA will focus on increasing the EU ‘s resilience along particularly critical value chains. ERMA plans to employ an agile process to swiftly examine and approve concrete investment projects, backed up with suitable EU financing.

At today’s meeting an investment process coordinated by EIT RawMaterials was presented as well as an investment update, where a current status of 23 investment cases have already been given priority. Those cases could reach a significant volume of up to EUR 10 billion, covering rare earths/magnets, raw materials for energy storage and conversion and others for materials contributing to other industrial value chains), in more than 14 European countries.

ERMA partners are invited to submit potential investment projects to strengthen domestic sourcing and improve the supply of secondary raw materials through resource efficiency and circular economy. All proposals will be collected, classified and evaluated. Selected proposals will be linked to investors via a matchmaking approach and accompanied from financing to implementation. The alliance focuses in the first step on rare earths for magnets and motors as well as advanced materials for energy storage and conversion while addressing potential of other base metal activities.

Rare earths for magnets and motors

Rare earths are indispensable to most industrial ecosystems in the EU, including renewable energy, defence and space. Although once discovered and commercialised by European scientists and engineers, their production is currently almost entirely dominated by China, with a market share of 80-100% depending on the sector. ERMA aims to strengthen the domestic supply chain for rare earths and permanent magnets. Possible investment cases include brown- and greenfield mining addressing various aspects of circular economy including recycling, processing and product design.

Advanced materials for energy storage and conversion

The success of the European energy transition is based on the availability of solar and fuel cells or batteries. However, these green technologies are currently heavily dependent on imports of high-purity advanced materials. ERMA therefore supports the domestic production of, for example, ore concentrates and primary and secondary cell-grade energy storage materials. This way, gaps in the battery value chain in Europe can be closed. Concrete investment scenarios range from greenfield mining to processing and refining to provide input material for battery, solar and fuel cell production.

Support from industry, research, politics and civil society

Since the presentation of the EU Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials and the launch event in September, ERMA has attracted a growing number of public and private sector stakeholders. Speakers at today’s meeting included Thierry Breton (EU Commissioner for Internal Market) and Maroš Šefčovič (Vice-President of the European Commission), and industry representatives.

Flows of raw materials and their current supply risks to nine selected technologies and three sectors
(Source: EU Commission, Foresight Study on Critical Raw Materials for Strategic Technologies and Sectors in the EU)