The European Union has finalized targets for domestic supply of critical minerals like lithium and nickel, marking a significant step in reducing its reliance on external countries, especially China. This decision, reached on Monday, aims to boost the EU’s self-sufficiency in strategic raw materials.
In March, the European Commission introduced the Critical Raw Materials Act, a pivotal element of the EU’s strategy to compete globally in the production of clean technology. The proposed targets include extracting 10%, recycling 15%, and processing 40% of the EU’s annual needs for 16 designated “strategic raw materials” by 2030.
A critical development in this agreement is the adjustment of the recycling target, now set to at least 25%. The European Parliament and the Council, representing EU governments, have concurred on this enhanced target. Furthermore, a related act, to be passed by the European Commission in 2027, will establish a recycling target based on the amount of annual waste collected.
Another significant amendment is the addition of aluminium and synthetic graphite to the list of strategic raw materials, alongside natural graphite. This change comes in response to China’s plans to intensify export controls on graphite, a crucial component in electric vehicle batteries, of which China refines over 90%.
The EU’s dependency on China extends to rare earths and lithium, vital for the bloc’s transition to green technology. The new act seeks to limit any third country’s contribution to no more than 65% of the EU’s supply for each strategic raw material, including cobalt, copper, magnesium, and titanium.
The act also establishes timelines for granting permits for strategic mining, recycling, and processing projects. It requires large companies to conduct regular assessments of their supply chains for strategic materials. Additionally, the act includes measures to moderate consumption.
EU industry chief Thierry Breton emphasized the importance of this legislation, stating that without action, Europe faced potential shortages and unwanted dependencies. He highlighted that the new law would ensure high environmental and social standards. The EU plans to collaborate with member states to identify strategic projects for expedited permitting procedures and easier access to finance.