The new additions to the European Commission’s (EC) revised list of 30 critical minerals highlight their “increasing strategic importance as enablers of clean technologies”, Roskill says.

While ‘critical raw materials’ has no universal definition, it generally refers to metals and minerals which are of high economic importance to a particular industry, sector or region and are at risk of supply shortage, Roskill says.

The EC sees critical raw materials as one of the areas where Europe needs to be “more resilient and autonomous” in preparation for future shocks like COVID-19 and the large uptake in clean tech, like electric vehicles.

The EU’s list of 30 critical minerals now includes bauxite, titanium, lithium, and strontium — a silvery metal used in fireworks, magnet production, zinc refining, and modern ‘glow in the dark’ paints and plastics.

“Owing to their use in applications including clean mobility, renewable energy and batteries, these commodities will play a crucial role in transitioning the EU to a low-carbon, circular economy,” Roskill’s Jack Anderson says.

“This will be key in meeting the EC’s target to be ‘climate-neutral’ by 2050 and creating an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

The EC’s Maroš Šefčovič says a secure and sustainable supply of raw materials is a prerequisite for a resilient economy.

“For e-car batteries and energy storage alone, Europe will for instance need up to 18 times more lithium by 2030 and up to 60 times more by 2050,” he says.

“We cannot allow to replace current reliance on fossil fuels with dependency on critical raw materials.

“This has been magnified by the coronavirus disruptions in our strategic value chains.

“We will therefore build a strong alliance to collectively shift from high dependency to diversified, sustainable and socially-responsible sourcing, circularity and innovation.”

The first EC critical minerals list was drawn up in 2008, revised in 2014 and again in 2017, when an additional seven raw materials were included.

The next update will be released in three years’ time.