BERLIN, May 23 – The RawMaterials Summit 2022, hosted by EIT RawMaterials, which is funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, opened today with EU leaders and EIT RawMaterials’ CEO, Bernd Schäfer, warning that Europe is at an epochal turning point to drive forward a full-scale, clean energy-driven industrial transformation. Following the REPowerEU Plan announced by the EU Commission last week, Schäfer, was both confident that the raw materials demands can be met, but warned that to meet the EU Green Deal objectives, the minerals and metals equation must be re-validated and redefined.

In his opening remarks, Schäfer stated that the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made it clear that now is the time to take full advantage of Europe’s single market.

The time has come to rapidly assemble highly innovative and sustainable supply chains between Member States and to diversify international supply sources. The concept of circularity must continue to be supported by policy leaders, industry and civil society and recycling must become a major pillar of society rather than a side stream.

Bernd Schäfer, CEO of EIT RawMaterials

Pointing to the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s estimate that the EU imported 155 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Russia in 2021, Schäfer said that “in order to replace this, Europe has no alternative but to produce vast amounts of renewable energy. The production of renewable energy requires wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, fuel cells, solar panels, heat pumps, batteries – all of which require raw materials, which available volumes are today off the chart”.

Given their importance, it is imperative that we step up our efforts to secure a stable, long-term and sustainable supply of critical raw materials for Europe’s economy. It will require all stakeholders to throw their weight behind these efforts. For our part, I am pleased to say that the REPowerEU communication – adopted by the Commission last week – laid out the preparation of a legislative proposal on critical raw materials to help Europe take the necessary action.

Maroš Šefčovič, EU Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight

EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel – within whose political mandate EIT is embedded – highlighted the role of the EIT RawMaterials community in driving innovation and empowering talent to develop a world-leading raw materials sector.

The EIT RawMaterials Innovation Community is building a pan-European Innovation Ecosystem on raw materials that are essential for Europe’s open strategic autonomy. Raw materials are essential components of chips, windmills and in most industrial processes. Ensuring global leadership on innovation in raw material is the foundation for making Europe the leader in the new wave of deep tech innovation.

Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

Our goal is to reduce dependency on raw materials. Otherwise, the green and digital transitions will not be possible. We have already perused an ambitious agenda in the area of raw materials. It combines more circularity and increased sustainable domestic production with reliable partnerships across the globe, which share our environmental and social standards. Now, we need to give a new impetus to this approach. With the REPowerEU Plan, the Commission announced that it will prepare a legislative proposal and intensify the work on the supply of critical raw materials. This is a signal of Europe being absolutely determined to defend its strategic interests.

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market (added in a written statement)

The renewed urgency brought about by the war in Ukraine was reiterated by Philippe Varin, Head of French Governmental Mission on Critical Materials, whose governmental task force is currently dealing with the impact of the Ukrainian war on metals supplies to industry.

This topic is less visible than the energy challenge or the food one. But the supply of Titanium, Palladium, Nickel or Neon is a matter of concern. It seems that no significant short-term disruption of supply is anticipated in the current situation of sanctions or retro-sanctions. But the supply is hampered at least by huge logistics disruptions.

Philippe Varin, Head of French Governmental Mission on Critical Materials

Varin also highlighted the huge role electric vehicles play in the EU’s Fit For 55 objective and the related demand for raw materials – 70% of which are expected to come from outside Europe.

To address the challenges for this industry Varin welcomes the EC intention to prepare a Raw Material legislative initiative, which should include incorporating related mining facilities into the taxonomy, the set up and the means to securely and quickly open new mines under a responsible mining European standard, and to develop a metals diplomacy with resource-rich countries.

EIT RawMaterials’ CEO Bernd Schäfer reiterated the importance of building a robust and resilient supply chain, with aligned industry standards and compliance requirements.

Europe’s first Rare Earth Magnets and Motors action plan was launched in 2021 by the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA), managed by EIT RawMaterials. The stakeholder process involved hundreds of industry partners.

Europe proved its global power when it came to the vaccine production. Likewise Rare Earth Magnets and Motors supply chain represents one of the biggest investment opportunities of the decade. Up until now, for example, we import 16,000 tonnes of rare earth permanent magnets from China, which is 98% of the EU market and yet Europe has the potential to supply at least 20% of Europe’s permanent magnets needs by 2030.

Bernd Schäfer, CEO of EIT RawMaterials

Bernd Schäfer also said that Europe must define a raw materials roadmap, which outlines the industry sector specific volume needs of minerals and metals that is needed, and by when.

We need a new mentality in Europe, we must be very clear about strategic partners and, we must push harder for the right measures on the legislative side to achieve a level playing field. Lastly, we have to shorten permitting times drastically to enable important mining projects to be fast tracked.

Bernd Schäfer, CEO of EIT RawMaterials

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