Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Perspektiven und Herausforderungen für EU-Importe seltener Erden aus Russland: Fallstudien aus Deutschland, Frankreich und Italien

Kohnert, Dirk (2024): Perspektiven und Herausforderungen für EU-Importe seltener Erden aus Russland: Fallstudien aus Deutschland, Frankreich und Italien.

[thumbnail of MPRA_paper_120033.pdf]

Download (1MB) | Preview


The European Union (EU) finds itself in a critical need for rare earths, particularly the refined products essential for the production of electric cars, turbines, and other technological applications. However, the refining process is not only energy-intensive but also poses significant environmental risks. Consequently, local communities, as evidenced by instances in Spain and Portugal, vehemently oppose having such operations in their vicinity, advocating a "beggar thy neighbour" policy. The EU currently relies heavily on China, which controls the majority of global processing, commanding 90% of all rare earths and 60% of lithium. In response to these challenges, the EU took a crucial step in November 2023 by reaching a preliminary agreement on the European Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA). This legislative initiative aims to enhance and diversify the EU's supply of critical raw materials (CRM), foster the circular economy, fortify Europe's strategic autonomy, and explore alternatives to mitigate dependence. Recent transnational crises, including disruptions to supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, underscore the imperative of secure supply chains across all economic sectors. These crises also underscore the significant influence wielded by major emerging economies, notably the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), which dominate key global supply chains, including those for critical raw materials (CRMs). Russia plays a pivotal role as one of the world's largest suppliers of palladium (40% of global supply), the second-largest supplier of platinum (13%) and nickel (12%), and a substantial contributor of aluminium and copper. Furthermore, Russia possesses the potential to emerge as a major player in the rare earths market due to its extensive reserves. The country also accounts for a considerable share of the EU's acquisitions, including palladium (41%), platinum (16%), cobalt (5%), and lithium (4%). Notably, Russia serves as the primary EU source for platinum group metals processing (iridium, platinum, rhodium, ruthenium; 40%), phosphate rock extraction (20%), lithium processing (4%), and scandium processing (1%). To attain greater independence in external CRM provision, the EU must make significant investments in its mining and processing facilities. However, mining represents merely the initial phase; subsequent steps involve the separation of rare earth elements (REE) from oxides, refining, and alloy forging a complex, highly specialized, multi-stage process. In this regard, relative newcomers like Europe lag behind, as China has solidified its dominant position in each phase through a concerted, long-term industrial strategy supported by state subsidies.

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact us: mpra@ub.uni-muenchen.de

This repository has been built using EPrints software.

MPRA is a RePEc service hosted by Logo of the University Library LMU Munich.