As Europe, shaken by the Ukraine war, seeks to reduce its reliance on Russia for energy supplies, an even bigger danger is looming. Wind turbines, electric vehicles, solar cells and computer chips all require industrial metals and rare earths. Growing digitization and energy transition will continue to drive demand for these exceptional raw materials, but the mining industry tends to be concentrated in a few regions of the world. China has the potential to pose big trouble in the future. Because, a variety of raw materials, Germany are imported from the country. These raw materials are indispensable for future technologies, and our demand for them will increase. Furthermore, not only in mining, but also in the deep processing of raw materials and the production of refined products, there is also a very high market concentration - China is the most important producer. Almost all important raw materials are monopolized by China The EU is 75% to 100% dependent on imports for most metals. And of the 30 raw materials defined as "critical", 19 are mainly supplied by China, some of which are almost monopolized by China: for example, magnesium (93% from China), rare earths (98%) and bismuth (93%) %). In the future, this dependence may be even greater. According to EU estimates, demand for cobalt alone will be five times higher by 2030 than it is today. The electric vehicle industry requires extremely high quantities of lithium batteries, and by 2030,
the demand for lithium may increase by 18 times, and by 2050, it may even increase by 60 times. Dependency can be used as a political bargaining chip As early as 2010, doubts arose that China was using its raw material power as a political bargaining chip. At the time, Beijing restricted the export of rare earths, which immediately led to a sharp rise in prices on the international market. The matter was later referred to the WTO, and China complied with the arbitration outcome and lifted the export restrictions. However, this does not necessarily guarantee Europe that the increased demand will also be met in the future.According to a report by Handelsblatt on March 25, 2022, in January 2021, experts from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology discussed suspending the supply of rare earths to the United States. In fact, Europe should not be surprised if China one day reduces Photo Restoration
its supply of raw materials. In the latest five-year plan, Beijing has made it clear that it will reduce the export of raw material-intensive goods and use more to meet domestic demand. According to the plan, China will become an international market leader in key technologies in the future,
rather than exporting raw materials. In addition, China also wants to be climate neutral by 2060, for which, like Europe, key raw materials are needed. Beijing has been preparing for this for some time, including securing raw materials from abroad, such as from Africa, through massive investments and contracts. Germany tries to reduce import dependence At least, Germany is aware of the seriousness of raw material safety issues, and has been committed to diversifying raw material imports over the years.
For example, rare earths are now imported not only from China but also from Brazil. In addition, in 2010, Germany established the Agency for Raw Materials (DERA), highlighting the emphasis on critical raw materials and their availability. Every two years, DERA conducts a survey of the origin of selected refined products. According to the survey results, Germany will still have to import key raw materials from China for a long time, and the conclusion: the dependence on China is still very high. In this regard, China does not even need to intentionally harm other countries. Because China also pays more attention to sustainable development and environmental protection. Environmental inspections of magnesium producers at the end of last year (2021) led some producers to stop production, and prices soared from $2,000 per ton to $10,000. Europe could boost its own mining industry At the EU level, the issue of raw material safety has also become a hot topic. In autumn 2020, the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA) was established. The alliance aims to improve the security of supply for European industry, including diversifying imports of raw materials and opening its own min
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