The European Union acting on Rare Earths too

10 05 2010

On April 30th, the EU’s commissioner for industry, Antonio Tajani, has announced that the EU will be putting more pressure on China and Africa to access rare earth supply. Earlier this year, worries of China imposing trade restrictions on rare earths to secure access to supply for its domestic industries have prompted many initiatives to increase the supply of rare earths from outside of China. I have recently reported on the United States’ RESTART Act.

Unlike the United States which has rare earth deposits on its territory, the EU has little or no deposits. As is the case with other minerals whose sourcing has become problematic for industries, the EU is envisioning a strategy for rare earths which it will draw up in the form of an upcoming Communication of the Commission to the Council and the Parliament.

The Commissioner has already mentioned that the intent of the document will be to list the sensitive rare materials in light of industries’ needs, pledge to work with China on easing its exports quotas (which are in breach of WTO rules), increasing recycling capacity within the EU and to cooperate with African countries to gain a foothold on the extraction of rare earth deposits in Africa. At present many deposits are exploited by Chinese company.

Raw material supply has been an ongoing issue affecting the competitiveness of EU-based metal industries (an in-depth discussion of the issue can be found here). In response to this, the EU launched in 2008 the Raw Materials Initiative- meeting our critical needs for jobs and growth in Europe, on which it should report on the implementation this year.

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10 05 2010
Martha Black

Gosh, I wrote this last week but saved it as draft and did not publish it until today. That is a bit annoying to say the least.

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