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Europe faces raw materials risk as mining declines, warns German industry leader

Europe is at significant risk of losing essential raw materials due to its trend of phasing out mining instead of investing in new mining projects, according to Wolfgang Niedermark, a member of the executive board of the Federation of German Industries (BDI). Speaking at the MiningForum in Berlin on June 6, Niedermark emphasized the critical need for Europe to secure its supply of vital resources.

Global demand and supply deficits

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Niedermark highlighted the rising global demand for critical raw materials such as lithium, nickel, and cobalt, which are essential for the green energy transition. He warned of structural supply deficits for many critical metals needed worldwide, underscoring Europe’s heavy dependence on other regions for these resources. This reliance not only places Europe at a strategic disadvantage but also leads to higher costs for sourcing these materials.

Dependence on China and the need for diversification

“Our dependence on many mineral raw materials from China is already greater than it was for crude oil and natural gas from Russia,” Niedermark noted. He stressed the importance of diversifying Europe’s sources of raw materials to prevent any single country from monopolizing the global supply market. “We must protect ourselves from being blackmailed. And we must regain more control over the material that forms the basis of our economy and [the functioning] of our societies. We must act ourselves, otherwise we will be acted upon,” he asserted.

Strategic diversification and circular economy

Niedermark called for a comprehensive diversification strategy that includes not only the diversification of imports but also the development of domestic mining and further processing of raw materials within Europe. He emphasized the necessity of establishing a circular economy to recycle and reuse these materials, reducing dependence on external sources and enhancing Europe’s material security.

By taking proactive measures to secure its supply of critical raw materials, Europe can reduce its vulnerability and ensure a stable foundation for its economy and societal functions in the face of growing global demand and geopolitical uncertainties.

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