Raw materials

The Raw Materials Initiative (RMI) aims at providing the framework conditions to establish an integrated strategy to face the challenges related to the access to non-energy and non-agricultural raw materials. It also tries to facilitate the sustainable supply of raw materials.

The “Communication on the Raw Materials Initiative - Meeting our critical needs for growth and jobs in Europe” ( COM(2008)699) from November 2008 aimed at improving access to Raw Materials in Europe on a three-pillar based approach:

  • ensuring a level playing field in access to resources in third countries;
  • fostering sustainable supply of raw materials from European sources,
  • boosting resource efficiency (link to RE page) and promoting recycling.

In the RMI Communication, the Commission also noted that it would, within two years, report to the Council on the progress made in implementing the RMI. During 2010, and as part of preparation of a second communication on the RMI, a public consultation was launched inviting stakeholders to comment on several issues related to raw materials. IMA-Europe participated in the consultation.

The comments received were used to prepare the Communication “Tackling the challenges in commodity markets and on raw materials” (COM(2011)25) which was published in February 2011. IMA-Europe welcomed this Communication, which not only reports on the progress made with the implementation of this initiative, but also indicates future actions. It further pursues and reinforces the three-pillar based approach and it extends the analysis to general commodity markets.

European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials

In view of promoting innovation in the (non-energy, non-agricultural) raw material sectors, the Commission proposed in February 2012 the creation of a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials. The Council of Ministers welcomed the proposal on 11 October 2012 and called the Commission to launch the EIP, which should in turn develop a Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP).

The EIP aims at bringing together all stakeholders – Member States, companies, NGOs, researchers, etc. – to allow them to develop common strategies, joint resources and ensure the development and implementation of innovative solutions along the entire value chain of raw materials. The underlying objective of the Partnership is to make Europe the world leader in exploration, extraction, processing, recycling and substitution by 2020. In order to facilitate the process, the Commission has proposed a number of concrete targets that are to be achieved by 2020. The EIP’s structure is based on the principles set up in the Innovation Union, with the purpose of having the right balance between high-level commitment and functional coordination as well as distributed operational responsibilities.

In this way, the Partnership has several working levels:

  • A High Level Steering Group (HLSG) to provide strategic advice and guidance
  • A Sherpa Group to ensure coordination between the strategic level and the operational level
  • Operational Groups to work on the specific working packages set up in the EIP

The Work Packages identified in the EIP on Raw Materials are the following:

  • WP 1 - Developing innovative technologies and solutions for sustainable and safe raw materials supply
  • WP 2 – Developing innovative and sustainable solutions for the appropriate substitution of critical and scarce raw materials WP 3 - Improving EU's raw materials regulatory framework, knowledge and infrastructure base
  • WP 4 - Improving the regulatory framework conditions, notably by promoting excellence and prevention, preparation for re-use and recycling through public (e.g. procurement) and private initiatives
  • WP 5 – International framework – horizontal approach

With a seat in the HLSG – and consequently in the Sherpa Group – and numerous nominations in the OGs, IMA-Europe has been identified as a relevant stakeholder within the discussions of the Partnership.

Raw Materials Supply Group (RMSG)

The RMSG is a stakeholder group formed by industry, environmental NGOs, trade unions, Member States, candidate countries and the Commission which was established in the 80’s to address the issue of the supply of raw materials. Two main areas of work for this group are the identification of critical raw materials and the exchange of best practices in the area of land use planning and administrative conditions for exploration and extraction.

Another area that is covered by the RMSG is the identification of Critical Raw Materials. The first exercise was carried out between April 2009 and June 2010 by an ad-hoc Expert Group and concluded with a list of 14 economically important raw materials subject to a higher risk of supply interruption.

Critical raw materials are not necessarily geologically scarce. Other aspects, such as change in the geopolitical-economic framework that may have a direct impact on the supply and demand of raw materials have been taken into account. The group is currently working on the review of the list, which is expected to be finalized during 2013.