Monday, October 12, 2020

"China’s Rare Earth Threat: Europe Struggles to Cut Reliance on Imports to Boost Its Strategic Autonomy"

 From EU Bulletin, October 7:

The European Commission has launched a fresh attempt at securing access to minerals like lithium and rare earth elements, stressing that those will be critical to underpin Europe’s growth in digital and green industries. To boost Europe’s „strategic autonomy“, the EU executive’s strategy ultimately aims to develop a full value-chain for critical raw materials on the continent – ranging from extraction to processing and waste recovery. This renewed drive for „strategic autonomy“ emerged when COVID-19 hit Europe earlier this year and disrupted global supply chains, which made Brussels come to a sobering realisation that it simply cannot continue to rely solely on imports for raw materials. “[The pandemic] has revealed the EU’s problematic dependence on third countries for active pharmaceutical ingredients and medical supplies,” said Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, a Greek MEP in the European Parliament.

Many EU leaders are increasingly worried that the raw materials necessary for the green and digital transitions are sourced mostly from other regions that are chronically unstable and countries that are far from being Europe’s trusted allies. “… we are increasingly reliant on China and other regions for supplying the metals and minerals required by those technologies,” Asimakopoulou said, urging the EU executive to defend EU industries against Chinese dumping and America’s “out-of-control tariff diplomacy” under President Trump. The wake-up call reverberated across the EU institutions in Brussels and beyond. Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, agrees: “We need to think more strategically to anticipate other possible disruptions in future.” Speaking at a recent Brussels event to mark the launch of the industry-led European Raw Materials Alliance, Breton advocated for Europe to boost its “own domestic capacity for primary raw materials” as well as secondary materials obtained through recycling and re-use. However, he also warned that “it is not sufficient to have the raw materials if we do not have the processing facilities in Europe.”...


EurActiv has a link to The European Raw Materials Alliance in one of their posts, September 29. 

It is rather wordy for a declaration and reads as though it were written by a committee, which I suppose makes sense.

This European effort follows on an announcement by Russia that despite the newfound love between Rus and China they would also like to have an insurance policy and turn the current de facto monopoly into a duopoly.

From Reuters, August 12:

Russia has $1.5 billion plan to dent China's rare earth dominance

Russia plans investment of $1.5 billion in rare earth minerals, critical to the defence, telecommunications and renewable energy sectors, as it strives to become the biggest producer after China by 2030, a top government official told Reuters....MUCH MORE

The U.S. had better get on the ball and make nice with Vietnam and Brazil to develop their resource base which combined equal China's proven reserve. And contain a better mix of the various rare earth elements than the Mountain Pass mine that Molycorp tried to bring back into production 

Related, July 28: "U.S. and Japan Seeking to Break China’s Grip on Rare Earths Production"