A rare country for high technology, Europe increases imports: +9% in one year, 40% from China

Europe depends more and more on the supply of foreign countries Rare earths: According to the latest Eurostat data, in 2022 the European Union imported a total of 18 thousand tons of Ree+, with an increase of 9% compared to 2021, while it exported 7 thousand tons (-8%). There China is our main supplier, followed by Malaysia and Russia.

Last year, the value of imports rose to 146 million eurosequal to one an increase of 37%. compared to 2021, while exports reached 142 million euros, with an increase of 2% compared to the previous year.

The data was published together with “A week from raw material (Raw Materials Week), organized by the European Commission and Doc The Council and the European Parliament reached an agreement on Critical raw materials worka proposal establishing a framework for insurance a supplying secure and sustainable supply of critical raw materials.

How much do rare earths cost?

Rare earth elements are a group 17 special metals with high supply risk and significant economic importance, used in various high-tech applications. The average import price was 7.9 euros per kilogram, with a growth of 26 percent compared to 2021, while the export price was 20.7 euros per kilogram of rare earth elements, with a growth of 11 percent.

EU imports from China and Russia

China is the biggest partner to import elements rare earths, which make up 40% of the total number or 7.4 thousand tons. Another supplier is Malaysia, who contributed 31% of imports, i.e. 5.6 thousand tons, while Russia is the third and provides us 25% import of rare metals, i.e. 4.5 thousand tons. The USA and Japan each had a 2% share import of these strategic elements into the EU.

Agreement on the EU Law on Critical Raw Materials

The week of raw materials organized by the European Commission this year is focused on European Law on Critical Raw Materials (Critical Raw Materials Act)on which The Council and the European Parliament have just reached a political agreementwhich must be followed by formal adoption by both institutions.

The political agreement reached maintains the general objectives of the original proposal, but strengthens several elements. It includes aluminum in the list of strategic and critical materials, reinforces the theme of recycling, clarifies the procedure for approving strategic projects and requires interested companies to conduct a supply chain risk assessment for strategic raw materials.

“Our dependence on raw materials is the Achilles heel of our competitiveness, but with a critical raw material act, we can turn this weakness into a strength”, the comment is Teresa Ribera Rodriguez, third interim vice president of the Spanish government and minister for ecological transition and demographic challenges. “We can create a truly European extractive sector; we can turn our waste into a resource; we can build closer links with third countries and ensure the sustainability of our sector.”

Strategic risk assessments

Proposed Ordinance The committee determines the list 34 critical raw materials (of which 16 are strategic, to which 17 are now added, aluminum) and sets targets for increasing the EU’s contribution to these substances (10% for extraction, 40% for processing and 15% for recycling). The compromise text also considers that apart from natural graphite (already present in the list) also synthetic graphite it will represent a strategic raw material for a period of three years, until the Commission carries out the first revision of the list.

Globally, the regulation identified measures to diversify imports of critical raw materials to ensure this no more than 65% of the consumption of each strategic raw material in the Union comes from a third country. The interim agreement maintains the parameters and adds that the recovery of raw materials present in the waste should be significantly increased.

Big companies exposed to a lack of strategic raw materials in technologies strategic (i.e. battery manufacturers, hydrogen producers, renewable energy generators, data transmission and storage or aircraft manufacturing) will have to regularly conduct one their supply chain risk assessment of strategic raw materials, which they can present to the board of directors, mapping where the materials come from, what can affect their supply and what are the vulnerabilities to supply interruptions.

Urso: “An important agreement for Italian industry as well”

For the Minister of Business and Production in Italy, Adolfo Urso, “the agreement reached today between the Council and the European Parliament on the regulation on critical raw materials is an important and significant result for the Italian industrial system, both for the inclusion of aluminum in the list of strategic materials, and for the ways in which we want to guarantee the supply of critical raw materials through a short and safe chain”.

“We are on the right track to strengthening European, and thus Italian, production capacities. This result is also the result of the new trilateral format of industrial policy between Italy, France and Germany, established in June in Berlin precisely on critical raw materials – explained Urso – Then we indicated the path to follow and the results comfort us. And this will be at the heart of the discussion that we will have tomorrow, together with Minister Pichetto Fratino, at the table on critical raw materials, which will be held in Mimit with all the players in the supply chain. Italy is ready to face the challenge, in order to guarantee the supply of critical raw materials fundamental to the dual green and digital transition”.


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