The plan presented Thursday in Brussels lists these critical or strategic minerals, which are found in so-called clean technologies, such as electric vehicle batteries or solar panels, but also in satellites, computer equipment, or weapons. Demand is only growing: for example, lithium for electric vehicle batteries is expected to be multiplied by 12 by 2030, and the rare earths needed for wind turbines are expected to be multiplied by four or five.
The EU is asking its member states, in order to ensure the sovereignty of the continent, to plan to extract 10% of the needs from European soil by 2030. A lithium mine project is planned in France, after years of the country having abandoned any mining ambitions.
It is also asking for 15% of needs to be met through recycling, a rapidly growing and virtuous sector. Another objective is to limit the share of a single third country in the supply of a critical mineral to 65%, so as not to end up, as in the case of Russian gas, in the hands of a single supplier.
Caught between U.S. and China
We can truly question the ability of the 27 EU countries to succeed in both transitioning their model, creating new supply chains, reintroducing sectors of activity that Europe had turned its back on, and protecting their sovereignty. This is a dizzying challenge.
China has monopolized a good part of the mining resources in Africa and Latin America.
This notably involves the relationships that Europe will be able to build with the countries producing these minerals, because the current situation is problematic. First, because China has increasingly monopolized a good part of the mining resources in Africa and Latin America, with a real vision that the West did not have. China has also been willing to pay the price for the degradation of its environment, for example, to exploit rare earths that the rest of the world no longer wanted.
Europe has faced multiple major challenges in recent months, such as the future plans for electric vehicle batteries plan or semiconductors. Caught between the attractiveness of the United States with their cheaper energy and generous subsidies, and the hegemonic risk posed by China, Europe is also betting on the future in a real way.
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