WHAT ARE CRITICAL RAW MATERIALS? (CRMs)
Raw materials are crucial to Europe’s economy and essential to maintaining and improving our quality of life. Securing reliable and unhindered access to certain raw materials is a growing concern within the EU and across the globe. To address this challenge, the European Commission has created a list of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs). CRMs combine a high economic importance to the EU with a high risk associated with their supply. Examples of CRMs include rare earth elements, cobalt and niobium.
Periodically, the European Commission publishes a list of CRMs based on a criticality assessment at EU level on a wide range of raw materials. The first list, published in 2010, contained 14 CRMs. The revised list published in 2014 included additional CRMs reaching a total of 20 CRMS. The 2017 list reached 27 materials.
In 2020 Bauxite, lithium, titanium and strontium are added to the list for the first time. Helium remains a concern as far as supply concentration is concerned, but is removed from the 2020 critical list due to a decline in its economic importance. The Commission will continue to monitor helium closely, in view of its relevance for a range of emerging digital applications. It will also monitor nickel closely, in view of developments relating to growth in demand for battery raw materials.
The list of CRMs should help:
CRM TABLE 2020
|Coking coal||Fluospar||Gallium||Germanium||Hafnium||Heavy Rare Earth Elements|
|Niobium||Indium||Magnesium||Natural Graphite||Natural Rubber||Light Rare Earth Elements|
|Platinum Group Metals||Phosphate rock||Phosphorus||Scandium||Silicon metal||Tantalum|
Since the establishment of the Raw Material Initiative by the European Commission and the publication of the first list of Critical Raw Materials, many European projects have addressed (part of) their value chains and several initiatives have contributed to gather (part of) the community into clusters and associations. In parallel, this has led to the generation of significant knowledge, which has been disseminated in a great number of documents.
Many databases have also been developed to help gather this information, but they have sometimes duplicated exsiting work. Past, ongoing and recent networks and projects such as ERECON, CRM_InnoNet, MSP-REFRAM, but also Minerals4eu, MICA, MIN-GUIDE, PROSUM, Smart Ground, INTRAW, cycLED, etc., have produced several in-depth studies that have created a good level of baseline information on several CRMs. A few R&D&I actions also address some specific steps of the value chains of CRMs (FAME, Optim’ore, IntMet, CloseWeee, REE4EU, Infinity, INREP).
In addition, several associations have contributed to structuring the community, covering nearly all of the fields related to raw materials and including CRMs in particular. The European Commission itself has initiated several activities including the further development of the Raw Materials Information System to facilitate its needs with regards to the European Union Knowledge Base on Raw Materials with links to the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials and to the European Innovation and Technologies Knowledge&Innovation Communities (EIT – KICs), amongst others.