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EIT RawMaterials’ blueprint for sustainable resource management in Europe’s green transition

EIT RawMaterials is actively collaborating with policymakers and industry players to promote innovation, formulate policies, and establish a clear roadmap to facilitate Europe’s critical materials sector in achieving its sustainability objectives. As Europe strives to meet its 2050 climate neutrality target, a significant challenge looms: securing access to critical raw materials essential for powering key green technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.

Presently, Europe heavily relies on a few countries, including China, for these crucial materials, leading to dependence on risk-exposed and often opaque supply chains. This dependence poses potential obstacles to the region’s economic and regulatory goals. EIT RawMaterials, recognized as the leading innovation community in the raw materials sector globally, is dedicated to supporting Europe’s transition to a sustainable economy by ensuring a sustainable supply of raw materials, promoting a circular economy, and driving innovation, education, and entrepreneurship.

Supported by

Managing the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA), a network comprising over 750 European and international partners, EIT RawMaterials is working towards ensuring the sustainable competitiveness of the European raw materials sector throughout the value chain. ERMA plays a pivotal role in securing financing to enhance Europe’s competitiveness in the global supply chain.

ERMA has released two Action Plans in collaboration with industry partners, focusing on specific market fields. The Rare Earth Magnets and Motors Action Plan, initiated in 2021, has already yielded 14 de-risked and bankable projects, estimated to supply around 20% of Europe’s permanent magnets needs by 2030. The recent action plan, “The European Call for Action on Energy Storage and Conversion,” launched in May 2023, aims to strengthen Europe’s position in the energy storage and conversion sector.

This action plan addresses the increasing importance of energy storage and conversion as green technologies gain wider adoption, emphasizing the need for substantial quantities of raw materials. The roadmap quantifies the investments required to secure the supply of these raw materials and focuses on key areas such as materials in solar energy, battery materials, fuel cells and electrolysers, and alternative energy storage and conversion.

The roadmap offers comprehensive strategies covering the entire mineral value chain, from exploration to processing, identifying investment opportunities exceeding €15 billion. This strategic approach could potentially elevate the EU’s self-reliance on critical materials by 2030.

The roadmap aligns with EU policy initiatives and suggests measures to make the European raw materials sector more competitive. It highlights the importance of harmonizing standards, introducing fit-for-purpose mining standards, and implementing a smart mix of trade measures to establish a level playing field.

A notable aspect of the roadmap is the focus on expanding mining operations within Europe while maintaining strict environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards. It proposes the creation of a European Raw Materials Fund to support projects across all phases, funded through a combination of EU and member state policies.

Innovation plays a crucial role in reshaping the mining industry, and EIT RawMaterials is actively driving this transformation. Collaborating with industry leaders, the organization supports the development of new safety and technological solutions to enhance mining conditions. Notable projects include advancements in mining waste utilization and initiatives to create a sustainable electric vehicle battery supply chain in Europe.

With the recent approval of the Critical Raw Materials Act, Europe aims to recycle at least 25% of the EU’s annual raw materials consumption through domestic recycling. EIT RawMaterials contributes to this goal through projects like ReLieVe, focusing on closed-loop industrial processes for recycling Li-ion batteries, and the Charamba project, utilizing artificial intelligence-powered technology for efficient waste stream management.

In addressing specific challenges related to critical raw materials like Vanadium and Gallium, EIT RawMaterials supports projects like VALORE, aiming to recover these materials as by-products from an alumina refinery. The organization also backs innovations like E-Magy, which enhances battery technology by producing nano-porous micron-sized silicon material, increasing battery energy density and enabling faster charging for electric vehicles.

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