Column: The human bottleneck in critical minerals supply chains – by Andy Home (Reuters – May 27, 2021)

The road to decarbonisation will be paved with copper. As well as lithium, nickel, cobalt and a host of other minerals, all critical for electric vehicles (EVs), solar panels and wind farms.

Securing enough of these metals has become an overriding concern for many Western countries now looking to invest in green technology industries as a driver of broader pandemic recovery.

The European Union currently imports all of the refined lithium, platinum and silicon it needs to produce EVs, clean hydrogen and solar panels respectively. It also gets 98% of its rare earths from one supplier – China.

“This is not sustainable,” Joaquim Nunes de Almeida, head of the European Commission’s Internal Market and Industry directorate, told the Cobalt Institute’s annual conference.

Access to raw materials has been identified as a major bottleneck to Europe’s green industrial strategy and the Commission “views raw materials projects, refining included, as strategic”, he said. There’s one big problem though. Us.

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