Spring Edition 2020
CRM Alliance Quarterly Newsletter - Spring Edition 2020
Dear Valued Readers,

Welcome to the Spring 2020 edition of the CRM Alliance Quarterly newsletter.

We wish you a pleasant reading!

Ps: We recently launched a brand new CRM Alliance website! Go check it out!
In this issue
CRM Alliance Updates
  • CRM Alliance webinar
  • BeST BeResponsible webinar
  • Annual Cobalt Conference postponed
  • 2020 Sustainable Antimony Day
  • World Magnesium Conference cancelled
  • JSW supports local hospitals
  • InSIDER webinar series
  • Good start for BETA in 2020!
  • MMTA April 2020 Crucible
  • TIC Bulletin Review 2020
  • Vulcan Energy Quarterly Activities Report

Public Consultations

Daily uses of CRMs
  • EU plans on boosting post-COVID-19 economy
  • Critical Raw Materials important to Green Deal
  • New Chemicals Strategy moves ahead
  • Little on primary production in EU Industrial Strategy
  • EU launches Digital Strategy
  • Threats and opportunities in EU Taxonomy
  • What next for UK REACH
  • DG Trade predicts reduction of 9.2% in EU exports
  • Commissioner Breton on building EU Battery Industry
  • EU should take more measures to secure CRMs
CRM Alliance Updates
CRM Alliance webinar
On 30 June 2020, CRM Alliance will host a webinar on the EU Industrial Strategy and its implications on the CRM sector. More information will follow soon!

The CRM Alliance has launched a new website! You can access it here: www.crmalliance.eu
BeST BeResponsible webinar
On 25 June, BeST will host a webinar on the Beryllium Voluntary Product Stewardship Program!

More information will be available the BeResponsible website soon.
Annual Cobalt Conference postponed
27th Cobalt Conference postponed until 9-10 September 2020 due to COVID-19.

You can find more information on the event here.
2020 Sustainable Antimony Day
On 25 November, the 2020 Antimony Day will take place.

More information on the event is available here.
World Magnesium Conference cancelled
The 77th Annual IMA World Magnesium Conference 2020 has been cancelled due to COVID-19. The event was supposed to take place on 13-15 May in Japan.

For more information, please click here.
JSW supports local hospitals
Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa supports local hospitals and other organisations in their fight against the coronavirus!

More information on these initiatives is available here.
InSIDER webinar series
Indium Corporation launches InSIDER webinar series.

You can find more information on the different webinars here.
Good start for BETA in 2020!
BETA Technology has secured two collaborative EU-funded health research projects which will address significant challenges in both individual and societal health.

For more information, please click here.
MMTA April 2020 Crucible
The Minor Metals Trade Association has published the latest edition of the Crucible.

You can access the April 2020 edition here.
T.I.C. Bulletin Review 2020
The Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center has published its Bulletin Review 2020.

The French report is available here.
Vulcan Energy Quarterly Activities Report
Vulcan energy has published its Quarterly Activities Report!

The report can be accessed here.
EU plans on boosting post-COVID-19 economy
The EU has issued a wide range of economic measures to respond in a quick and coordinated way to the COVID-19 pandemic. The total amount mobilized form the EU budget and the European Investment Bank so far is around €3.4 trillion, which has been directed towards saving jobs and supporting companies hit by the crisis.
The CRM Alliance has prepared an overview of the economic actions taken by the EU to keep the economy running in the coming months:
The Commission has established a Temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) in order to help people keep their job and has taken several liquidity measures to help hard-hit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The European Investment Bank Group aims to invest €20 billion in SMEs and the Commission has unlocked €1 billion to the European Investment Fund to provide liquidity to businesses, aiming to mobilize in total €8 billion to help at least 100,000 SMEs.
The European Commission has implemented more flexible rules regarding state aid . This is of crucial importance, as the main fiscal response to the crisis will come from the budget of national governments. The temporary relaxation of state aid rules should allow governments to provide liquidity to the economy to support citizens and companies and save jobs in the EU. Additionally, the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative provides Member States with immediate liquidity.
The EU is also allowing for more flexibility regarding the European fiscal framework , which should help Member States support their healthcare systems and businesses. With the aim of protecting critical European assets and technology, the Commission has published guidelines to help member states screen foreign direct investments and acquisitions of control or influence.
The scope of the European Solidarity Fund has been extended to encompass major public health emergencies and numerous decisions were adopted approving national initiatives, such as guarantee schemes for companies and funds to support the production and supply of medical devices and masks.
The CRM Alliance calls for the facilitation of easy cross-border transport of critical raw materials. As the name suggests, these materials are critical to the European Union and are on top of the value chain. Disruption of supply should be avoided at all cost, as this will have negative consequences down the entire value chain.
An overview of all EU measures can be found here .
The full report on the comprehensive economic policy response is available here .
Critical Raw Materials important to Green Deal
The current COVID-19 crisis has caused legislative delays, including for the EU Green Deal. Shortly after the outbreak of the Coronavirus, speculations on the future road of the Green Deal rose with some countries even advocating to completely postpone the EU’s green transition . For others, implementing the Green Deal is of crucial importance for a green recovery from the health crisis.
However, imposing such an expensive and demanding set of measures as set forward in the Green Deal, might push companies, especially SMEs, already in financial troubles because of the crisis further down. In this perspective, delaying some of the initiatives could be beneficial to European industry, as it would allow companies to recover from the pandemic and implement measures at their own pace.
It also allows the EU to potentially re-think some strategies set out in the Green Deal. Raw materials play a crucial part in the transition to a sustainable and climate-neutral EU economy. Critical Raw Materials are needed to produce renewable energy sources and green technologies such as solar panels, windmills and batteries. 
The EU’s green transition is very resource intensive and relies heavily on the metals supply chain. It is expected that the demand for critical raw materials (CRMs) will continue to increase and is likely to double by 2050. At the same time, the EU is highly depended on third parties for the import of CRMs, such as like cobalt, magnesium and tantalum.
Even though the Green Deal recognizes the importance of CRMs, it does not emphasize the need to further develop primary production and a well-managed mining sector to mitigate supply risks. The EU should put more effort and research in sustainable mining technologies and specific CRM policies.
New chemicals strategy moves ahead
Unlike other EU initiatives, the upcoming Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability is not due to be delayed, and the metals industry should follow this closely, as it will outline how metals will be regulated in the future. It is expected to be released in Q3 2020. The EU will also continue to work on the 2030 Climate Target Plan, the Renovation wave, and the Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy. The latter is considered to be a key pillar of the Green Deal and an important contributor for the recovery form the COVID-19 crisis. It risks affecting the mining and extraction sectors, as they are not considered “green”. These activities may be moved to a “brown list”, which will make financing difficult and probably more expensive.
Among the “less essential” initiatives that will be postponed are the New Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change and the Empowering the Consumer for the Green Transition.
The full list is accessible here .
Little on primary production in EU Industrial Strategy
On 10 March, the European Commission presented a new Industrial Strategy .
The new Industrial Strategy aims to maintain the European industry’s global competitiveness, achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and shaping Europe’s digital future.
To achieve Europe’s industrial transformation towards climate neutrality and digital leadership, the new strategy sets out key drivers and proposes a comprehensive set of future actions, among which many are particularly relevant for the CRM sector:
  • Comprehensive measures to decarbonise energy-intensive industries; support sustainable and smart mobility industries and secure the supply of low-carbon energy at competitive prices
  • An Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials
  • A new EU pharmaceutical strategy
  • Establishment of industrial alliances on: Clean Hydrogen; Low-Carbon Industries and Industrial Clouds and Platforms and Raw Materials
  • Legislation on green public procurement
  • A renewed focus on innovation, investment and skills
The CRM Alliance welcomes the initiatives set out in the new Industrial Strategy but feels that it does not sufficiently promote primary production of raw materials in the EU. The initiatives in the Industrial Strategy still heavily rely on the import of raw materials. Diversification of resources in an option expressed by the Commission lately. However, this has little effect if more than three quarters of the global production of a certain substance comes from one country. Alternatives sources will also take time to develop and may be less attractive if it originates from countries that have bad environmental or labour standards.
Raw materials do not only represent the top of a value chain, but they also attract investment in processing industries. The Industrial Strategy gives too little value to the positive effects of extraction to the downstream economy. For example, a country like China produces not only the raw materials needed for solar panels, they have also become the largest producers of these end products.
Read the press release here .
EU launched Digital Strategy
On 19 February, the European Commission published its Digital Strategy.
The new strategy for the EU’s digital future aims to position the EU to become the world’s leader on tech by leveraging industrial data for business-to-business applications.
The Digital Strategy package consists of:

The development of digitalisation and raw materials industry mutually benefit each other. Harnessing the power of data and employing digital solutions in exploration, mining and mineral processing will benefit raw materials industries. In turn, these industries can more effectively provide the materials necessary for developing innovative technological devices and advances.
The press release is available here .
Threats and opportunities in EU Taxonomy
The Council recently adopted an EU Taxonomy , a unified classification system aiming to encourage private investment in sustainable growth and contributing to a climate neutral economy.
The EU Taxonomy is a classification tool aiming to enable investors and companies to make educated investment decisions on environmentally friendly economic activities.
Industries and companies will be scored through the following systems:
  • Taxonomy for climate change mitigation (application by the end 2021)
  • Taxonomy for climate change adaptation (application by the end 2021)
  • Taxonomy for water management (application by the end of 2022)
  • Taxonomy for circular economy (application by the end of 2022)
  • Taxonomy for pollution (application by the end of 2022)
  • Taxonomy for the ecosystem (application by the end of 2022)
The taxonomy initiative is part of the EU’s Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy. The European Commission has recently launched a public consultation on this renewed strategy with the aim to adopt it in the second half of 2020.
Raw materials play an important part in the EU’s green transition. At the same time, the taxonomy also represents potential threats to the value chain and some key industries for the EU economy that heavily rely on raw materials could severely be impacted by this initiative. The taxonomy could potentially blacklist a company’s activities and make the financing of activities in the ‘brown labelled’ sectors more difficult and costly. The EU should also lead in developing clean technologies in ‘brown’ sectors, as opposed to forcing these sectors to less green jurisdictions.
You can find the press release on the EU Taxonomy here .
The public consolation on the Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy is available here .
What next for future UK REACH
The CRM Alliance attended a webinar hosted by Chemical Watch on the post-Brexit options for the United Kingdom’s chemical laws.
Key topics discussed in the webinar included the political impact of COVID-19 on Brexit negotiations, Brexit-related development to date, data rights management after Brexit and the future of chemicals regulation in the UK post-Brexit.
During the webinar, a representative from the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reiterated that the UK government will implement a UK REACH. The UK chemicals registration system will contain many similarities to EU REACH but will operate completely independently.
All UK-held EU REACH registrations will be grandfathered in and continue to have access to the UK market and have 120 days to provide initial information. Importers of substances from EU-based registrants will have 180 days to provide UK authorities with some primary information. After the transition period, importers have two years to provide all technical information on their substance. Registrations will be overseen by the UK’s the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which will become the equivalent body to ECHA. The UK REACH system is expected to be live from 1 January 2021.
Other experts attending the webinar discussed the potential risks to the EU if the UK moves away from EU REACH. It may cause deregulatory pressure on EU chemicals regulation, trans-boundary pollution, and a reduced global power of EU REACH. It appears that close cooperation between both parties would be the best option; otherwise, chemicals will become subject to dual registrations and costs. EU REACH registration is a very time-consuming and costly procedure and many companies would not like to repeat it.
DG Trade predicts reduction of 9.2% in EU exports
The European Commission Directorate-General for Trade (DG Trade) has carried out an analysis estimating how the reduction in economic activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has affected international trade.
The analysis estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to
-      a reduction of 9.2% EU exports;
-      an 8.8% decrease of EU imports;
-      and a 9.7% decrease of global trade in 2020.
Manufacturing sectors are the most impacted, in particular transport equipment and electrical machinery turn out to be more strongly affected. Exports of primary sectors, with the exception of energy, and services trade are less impacted.
The full report is available here .
Commissioner Brenton on building the EU battery industry
EU Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton was questioned during the European Parliament plenary session on 15 April about the Commission’s strategy to build the EU battery industry.
EU Commissioner Breton explained that the Strategic Action Plan on Batteries (BAP) includes concrete procedures to develop a competitive battery ecosystem in the EU. The BAP aims to reduce the EU’s dependency on imported battery raw materials and focusses on making better use of EU domestic resources, both primary and secondary. The BAP also wants to make sure raw materials are extracted and processed in environmental and socially responsible way.
The Commission’s actions:
  • Start dialogues with member states to determine the fitness of their raw material policies
  • Communicate with stakeholders to develop sustainable mining principles in Europe
  • Promote responsible and ethical sourcing commitments among European battery manufactures
  • Enhance the knowledge base on battery value chain, including raw materials
  • Provide research and innovation funding for a more efficient use of raw materials for batteries in Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe
  • Collaborate closely with the financial institutions to secure the supply of critical raw materials
The effect of the European Commission’s initiatives remain to be seen. The permitting of mines is not an EU competence, but a national and in many countries even a regional competence. Whether the EU will be less reliant on imports of battery and other critical raw materials remains to be seen. As Breton’s colleague, European Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan highlighted these months in the same European Parliament, supply risks of critical raw materials can be mitigated by diversifying imports. Considering the dominant position of China for some of these materials, this strategy may not be as efficient as hoped for.
EU should take more trade measures to secure CRMs
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the EU has taken several trade measures to tackle the current public health crisis. In sum, the EU has: reduced the import duties and VAT on products needed to fight the coronavirus, established Green Lanes to ensure the availability of essential goods and services, facilitated air cargo operations , provided for public procurement guidance relating to emergency provisions in current legislation to allow for quicker purchasing of necessary goods, and implemented export authorization to ensure the supply of personal protective equipment in the European Union. Guidance on related to customs issues caused by COVID-19 is available here .
The CRM Alliance welcomes these measures but believes that the EU should do more to help the critical raw materials sector. Key industries for the EU economy are severely impacted by the crisis. Demand side shocks have forced car manufactures, Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers and other market players further upstream to stop or reduce their production, resulting in obvious negative effects on demand of raw materials.
In a position paper , the EIT RawMaterials Community explained that the EU should take measures to establish sustainable post-COVID-19 raw materials supply chains. The current crisis highlights the necessity to secure the supply of strategic raw materials needed for the long-term competitiveness and job security of key industries of crucial importance for the European Union. Raw materials are key for the economic recovery post-COVID-19.

According to Eurometaux, the EU should work to ensure frictionless cross-border movement to deliver raw materials of continuous process industries and develop strategies to ensure supply and industry access to essential raw materials and prevent further global disruptions form COVID-19. Eurometaux’s full list of recommendations is available here .
The CRM Alliance aligns with the findings and recommendations of the EIT RawMaterials Community and Eurometaux. The EU should establish ‘green lanes’ for raw materials crucial to European industries and develop strategies to avoid future supply disruptions and secure value chains.
Public Consultations
Daily uses of CRMs