The critical issue of securing raw material supply in Europe


The pertinent issue of securing supply chains in Europe – especially those of Critical Raw Materials – is becoming a more strategic priority by the day for governments and trading blocks. Our recent article on the trade havoc that ensued when a giant container became wedged in the Suez Canal highlighted our palpable supply fragility; Covid-19 has also sent chaos into the heart of global trade networks. But it’s not just recent global drama that’s focused the conversation on securing the supply of CRMS – it’s also a sign that our successful, yet greedy green revolution is marching forward at pace.

Reliance paradox

News is spreading fast about Norge Mining’s investigations into vanadium, titanium and phosphorus – all EU Critical Raw Materials. With this in mind, we have recently partnered with political German strategic advisory company Bingmann Pflüger International (BPI) to bolster our market entry and strategic positioning. Its analysis reminds us that the accelerating transformation processes of decarbonisation, industry 4.0, and in particular the worldwide demand for electric vehicles and industrial energy storage have all dramatically increased the global appetite for new technologies. Our reliance on clean tech may be morally and environmentally sound, but it’s also more material intensive than our past ‘dirty’ energy sources. According to BP:

Global clean tech race

“These trends have fuelled a global race for the most advanced technologies based on CRMs and intensified competition for access to and strategic control of Rare Earth Elements, lithium, cobalt and other strategic materials. Almost 60 percent of the worldwide demand for CRMs is associated with high-growth industries.”

The International Energy Agency backs this up. It says:

“An energy system powered by clean energy technologies differs profoundly from one fuelled by traditional hydrocarbon resources. Solar photovoltaic (PV) plants, wind farms and electric vehicles (EVs) generally require more minerals to build than their fossil fuel-based counterparts. A typical electric car requires six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car and an onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a gas-fired plant. Since 2010 the average amount of minerals needed for a new unit of power generation capacity has increased by 50% as the share of renewables in new investment has risen.”

EU’s shifting supply policies

The European Green Deal (EGD) of December 2019, the new EU climate law, and its ambitious target of 55 percent emissions reduction for 2030 show the EU’s determination to accelerate its decarbonisation strategy by developing and introducing various disruptive technologies. Europe’s dependency (nay, the world’s) it seems is not only shifting, it’s soaring when it comes to CRMS, such as the ones we have discovered in our deposits in Norway (one of which has been categorised as World Class). It’s little wonder, therefore, that there’s been a speedy introduction of so many EU supply policies for CRMS since 2020 – as you can see below.

New EU supply policies for CRMs since 2020:

  • Recognise a dramatic increase in CRM demand and imports as well as rising global competition for access to these materials due to new global technology trends, the implementation of the EGD, and the worldwide expansion of renewables;
  • Pay more attention to supply chain risks and heavy import dependency of CRMs;
  • Expand the CRM list from 27 in 2017 to 30 in 2020;
  • Favour expanded domestic mining, refinement, and processing of CRMs in Europe;
  • Develop new instruments and financial support for domestic mining;
  • More strongly focus on new criteria for sustainable mining;
  • Aim to a circular economy for CRMS with high recycling and re-use rate;
  • With the Battery Alliance and its Action plan, for the first time develop a full supply chain for a key technology and industry (including ensuring a reliable and sufficient supply of CRMs) for battery production in 25-30 gigafactories in Europe).

Europe’s future industries

Currently China is the only superpower that’s strongly positioned throughout the clean tech supply chain. Secure CRM supply, therefore, could determine Europe’s role in future global industries, the resilience of its economy and the EU’s geo-economic and geopolitical influence worldwide.

In the words of Bingmann Pflüger International’s experts: “Geo-economic changes will have far reaching impacts, as they will create new supply and value chains, require new trade routes, and generate new geopolitical rivalries and alliances.” And Norge Mining is looking forward to being at the centre of these new supply chains, routes and alliances.

Content for this article is taken from analysis provided by Bingmann Pflüger International (BPI)  to Norge Mining.