The need to secure access to critical raw materials 
What are Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) ?

Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) combine raw materials of high economic importance and of high-risks associated with their supply. Since the notion depends both on the availability of the substance and on its economic importance, it varies throughout the years.

The European Commission has created a list of critical raw materials (CRMs) for the EU, which is subject to review and update every three years. The fourth list of CRMs is available here on the European Commission website. It was published in 2020 and includes 30 CRMs. 

AfricaMaVal focuses on the minerals and metals present in the fourth list of Critical Raw Materials for the EU as well as on Copper (Cu), Nickel (Ni), Tin (Sn) and Manganese (Mn) that are particularly pertinent considering Africa’s geological potential and their critical status in the digital and energy twin transitions. Thus, in the context of this project, we will speak about Extended Critical Raw Materials (ECRMs). 

Why are CRMs important ?

Modern societies all around the globe are highly dependent on CRMs because they are essential in two main aspects:  

  • Maintaining growth and competitiveness. Indeed, raw materials can be both metals and chemical elements and are present in the technologies we constantly use, from the electronics of our dematerialized life to our means of transport and the lighting of our houses.  
  • Facilitating the environmental and digital “twin” transition. Indeed, the development of low carbon technologies to fulfil EU climate and energy objectives is dependent on the availability of raw materials.  

Why is the EU highly import-dependent when it comes to sourcing metals and what risks does it poses?

Due to the high level of natural concentration in particular regions of the globe, deposits of raw materials in the EU not easily accessible, already depleted after years of exploitation or not exploitable for technical or economic reasons, Europe is naturally highly dependent on foreign imports for minerals.

But in this context, geopolitical issues could heavily affect Europe’s supply, lead to price volatility, and impact market changes. As future demand of primary critical raw materials will continue to be largely met by importations, EU needs to diversify its supply chain and engage strategic partnerships with resources-rich third countries covering extraction, processing and refining such as African countries.

Therefore, securing reliable and unhindered access to certain raw materials is a growing concern within the EU.

In this context, AfricaMaVal aims to develop sustainable partnership, ensuring a responsible sourcing of mineral resources for its industry while granting a local co-development in the best Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) conditions. 

The African continent is an ideal partner for the European Union to achieve these goals given its proximity and its exceptional endowment in these much sought after ECRM. At the same time, this should be an opportunity for the African continent to capitalize on their mineral wealth, further develop their internal value chain and contribute to the sustainable development of the African continent as a whole, at the individual, local, regional and continental level.