Top EU scientists have warned that proposals to restrict the use of lead in the EU risk jeopardising the bloc’s plans to expand energy storage and clean technologies.
The scientists have criticised “ill-judged” attempts to clamp down on lead, after industry leaders said thousands of battery jobs risked being axed in Europe and ‘exported’ to competitors if the European Commission backed moves for an in-effect ban on the use of four lead compounds.
BEST Battery Briefing understands the Commission is advising EU states against adding lead monoxide, lead tetroxide, pentalead tetraoxide sulfate and tetralead trioxide sulfate to Europe’s REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) authorisation list.
Now scientists from the EU’s Socrates project— which includes work on ground-breaking sustainable metallurgical processes— have warned EU leaders that banning lead “risks stalling” Europe’s circular economy goals.
The group argues in a policy brief that restricting lead metallurgy “would not only have a detrimental impact on the lead industry, but also on all the industries linked to it that work with elements like silver, copper, antimony, tin, tellurium and zinc”.
Metals like lead “are used by firms such as Umicore and Metallo as a carrier metal, which ‘unlocks’ these companies’ ability to recover and recycle everything from silver to cadmium”, the scientists said.
The Brussels-based Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers— Eurobat— has told BBB “we understand the Commission advises not to include lead compounds on the REACH authorisation list this year and EU member states will vote on this, probably in April”.