Battery industry players cautiously welcomed the European Union’s proposed Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA).
They said it reduces European dependence on imported critical raw materials. The act, announced on Thursday, aims to diversify import sources and make a sustainable domestic supply of materials.
The European Commission said the new regulation sets clear benchmarks for domestic capacities along the strategic raw material supply chain and to diversify EU supply by 2030:
- At least 10% of the EU’s annual consumption for extraction
- At least 40% of the EU’s annual consumption for processing
- At least 15% of the EU’s annual consumption for recycling
- Not more than 65% of the EU’s annual consumption of each strategic raw material at any relevant stage of processing from a single third country.
While demand for critical raw materials is projected to increase drastically, Europe relies heavily on imports. These often come from quasi-monopolistic third country suppliers. “The EU needs to mitigate the risks for supply chains related to such strategic dependencies to enhance its economic resilience, as highlighted by shortages in the aftermath of the Covid-19 and the energy crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
The CRMA is subject to approval by the European Parliament and Council.
It will simplify permitting procedures for critical raw materials projects, coordinate strategic raw materials stocks among member states, invest in research, innovation and skills, and improve recycling and sustainability of critical raw materials.
Europe’s RECHARGE battery industry association said the CRMA and Net-Zero Industry Act identified actions to tackle the challenge of batteries materials supply. They further stimulate the domestic production of net-zero technologies of which batteries are a part, it said.
“A real game changer for competitiveness”
“These two Acts can become a real game changer for competitiveness of the European battery value chain,” said Claude Chanson, General Manager.
He said there was, however, incoherence and incompatibility between EU climate objectives and EU chemicals policy. “We would like to remind the Commission that multiple legislative frameworks related to critical raw materials and battery manufacturing are interconnected.
“This includes the Industrial Emissions Directive, Batteries Regulation, ELV Directive, REACH Revision, Waste Framework Directive, Waste Shipments Regulation, as well as the upcoming European Waste Catalogue Revision. We underline the importance of coherence between these policies to allow predictability for investment.”
Will Adams, head of battery raw materials research at cross-commodity price reporting agency Fastmarkets, said: “The EU does not have an abundance of critical minerals. Where it has them, it needs to develop them with a sense of urgency. Parts of the EU’s CRMA do address some of these issues, limiting planning to two years for mining projects and one year for processing projects.
“Because the EU will have to import most of its raw materials, speeding up the processing application procedure will help the EU to build its supply chain,” he added.
Giorgio Corbetta, EU affairs director at the Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers, said speedier administrative procedures are critical to the continuing development of gigafactories as well as recycling infrastructure.
Lithium, cobalt and nickel are used in battery manufacturing.