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Brussels, 17 June 2010
Report lists 14 critical mineral raw materials
This report analyses a selection of 41 minerals and metals. In line with other studies, the report puts forward a relative concept of criticality. This means that raw material is labelled “critical” when the risks for supply shortage and their impacts on the economy are higher compared with most of the other raw materials. Two types of risks are considered: a) the "supply risk" taking into account the political-economic stability of the producing countries, the level of concentration of production, the potential for substitution and the recycling rate; and b) the "environmental country risk" assessing the risks that measures might be taken by countries with weak environmental performance in order to protect the environment and, in doing so, jeopardise the supply of raw materials to the EU. Building on existing approaches, this report sets out an innovative and pragmatic approach to determining criticality. In particular,
Based on a criticality methodology, calculations are made regarding the economic importance and supply risk of the 41 materials.
Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED
The Group considers that those 14 raw materials falling within the top right cluster of the above diagram are critical. As noted, this is due to their high relative economic importance and to high relative supply risk. The 'environmental country risk' metric does not change this list of critical materials.
List of critical raw materials at EU level (in alphabetical order):
Production concentration of critical raw minerals materials
For the critical raw materials, their high supply risk is mainly due to the fact that a high share of the worldwide production comes from China (antimony, fluorspar, gallium, germanium, graphite, indium, magnesium, rare earths, tungsten), Russia (PGM), the Democratic Republic of Congo (cobalt, tantalum) and Brazil (niobium and tantalum). This production concentration, in many cases, is compounded by low substitutability and low recycling rates.
Concerning the materials positioned in the sub-cluster in the bottom right corner, it has to be kept in mind that a small shift in one of the parameters of the supply risk metric may result in a sudden change upwards. In order words, a slight change in the underlying variables may result in one of these materials being reclassified as 'critical'. For several of the materials positioned in the sub-cluster in the left corner, notably the industrial minerals, the group considers that possible supply risks may occur within a longer time horizon should 'competition to land' continue to adversely affect production from quarries or mines in the EU.
One of the most powerful forces influencing the economic importance of raw materials in the future is technological change. In many cases, their rapid diffusion can drastically increase the demand for certain raw materials. Based on a study commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, the demand from driving emerging technologies is expected to evolve sometimes very rapidly by 2030.
Global demand of the emerging technologies analysed for raw materials in 2006 and 2030 related to today’s total world production of the specific raw material (Updated by BGR April 2010)
1The indicator measures the share of the demand resulting from driving emerging technologies in total today's demand of each raw material in 2006 and 2030; 2) Ore concentrate
The Group recommends updating the list of EU critical raw materials every 5 years and enlarge the scope for criticality assessment.
The Group recommends:
The Group recommends the establishment of a sub-group of the Raw Material Supply Group of the European Commission to ensure the follow-up of the report on critical raw materials.
The Group recommends policy actions to improve access to primary resources aiming at:
The Group recommends that the following policy actions, with regard to trade and investment as defined in the trade raw materials strategy, be pursued:
The Group recommends that policy actions are undertaken to make recycling of raw materials or raw material-containing products more efficient, in particular by:
The Group recommends the encouragement of substitutability of certain raw materials, notably by promoting research on substitutes for critical raw materials in different applications and to increase opportunities under EU RTD Framework Programmes.
The Group recommends the improvement of the overall material efficiency of critical raw materials by the combination of two fundamental measures:
The measures should be evaluated with regard to impacts on environmental and economic performance over the entire value chain.
The Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) regroups platinum, palladium, iridium, rhodium, ruthenium and osmium.
Rare earths include yttrium, scandium, lanthanum and the so-called lanthanides (cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium and lutetium)