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Classifying critical materials: A review of European approaches

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Abstract

This article examines the approach to quantifying critical materials taken by the European Commission (EC) in its 2010 and 2014 studies. It notes that these reports represent positive steps in enhancing understanding of, and providing centralised solutions to, raw material issues in a European context, and identifies the simplistic criticality matrix approach, and selection of credible data sources, as important strengths. However, numerous problems, such as data availability, and the omission of important factors, notably consideration of the supply chain and environment, were also identified. As such, the article concludes that such studies should serve as only a first step towards the provision of suitable evidence base for advising on policy, and that it should be a priority of the EC to improve data collection and quality. © 2015 Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and The AusIMM.

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... Although review exist in RE supply security related material criticality (Bedder, 2015;Erdmann and Graedel, 2011), research trends (Chen and Zheng, 2019), recycling and substitution (Akcil et al., 2021;Ambaye et al., 2020;De Lima, 2015;Gaustad et al., 2021;Omodara et al., 2019), this paper sets a different review direction by critically evaluating pathways to achieve rare earth supply security and their existing drivers and barriers and acknowledged the complexity of this problem through systems thinking approach. Literature was collected systematically using the approach presented by from Web of Science, Scopus, and Google search from 1990 to 2021 (as of May 31, 2021). ...
... Some studies also proposed a modified HHI index by coupling it with other factors such as factors of concentration (Achzet and Helbig, 2013;Bedder, 2015), environmental and social risks of exporting countries (Althaf and Babbitt, 2021), World Bank's Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) (Gemechu et al., 2016), recyclability and availability of materials (Achzet and Helbig, 2013). Others used a simple projection of material requirements of certain products relative to the supply availability in the global reserves to manufacture that products (Shammugam et al., 2019). ...
... The concept of material criticality has been used to indicate the importance of certain materials relative to the economic activities of a country with high supply risk (Bedder, 2015;Løvik et al., 2018). It attempts to capture both the material supply risks and the vulnerability of a system to potential supply disruptions (Erdmann and Graedel, 2011). ...
Article
A sustained and guaranteed supply of rare earth (RE) minerals is imperative to a country's national security to sustain its manufacturing, defence, and high-tech industry sectors. Although the term is referring to “rare”, it does not mean that they are not abundant, but rather the difficulties to extract these minerals and the highly mixed nature of the deposits make them rare. RE minerals' production has been closely monopolised by Chinese mining companies which have create concerns on their supply risk and resilience in the future. This study critically reviewed 1) the existing approaches and theories used to evaluate the RE supply security and 2) the pathways to achieve RE supply security and their existing drivers and barriers to implementation. Literature and reports were collected from Web of Science, Scopus, and Google search which resulted in 323 articles included in the final database and 67 articles for the critical analysis. Our findings indicate the need to integrate existing approaches and theories such as resilience, material criticality, and risk theory to overcome their individual limitations. This study also suggested four pathway categories that can improve RE supply security including 1) circular economy strategies, 2) supply chain agility, 3) building domestic supplies, and 4) exploring beyond terrestrial mining. A preliminary causal loop diagram (CLD) was developed based on the factors identified during the review to depict the complexity and dynamics of the different system elements affecting the RE supply security.
... They are used as systematic screening tools to identify resources of concern. Thereby, the assessments inform and guide policy making, research and development, as well as product design [6,7]. Governmental organizations and policymakers have been actively involved in the discourse and assessments of critical natural resources, evidenced, for example, in reports by the US Department of Energy [8] and the European Commission [9]. ...
... Irreplaceable or unsubstitutable for all practical purposes (e.g., because of antiquity, complexity, specialisation, location) 6 Critical natural capital Critical elements of the capital stock should be: 1. Essential to human health, but should also reflect the need for ecosystem health; 2. ...
... Schillebeeckx [79] calls this situation "politically scarce", where higher possibilities for political or social unrest might disrupt the supply of the resource. Bedder [6] is one of the few who mention corporate concentration as well as country concentration that can increase criticality due to oligopolistic market imbalances. Consequently, net import reliance and trade relationships can significantly impact the criticality of a resource: export restrictions and quotas in supplying countries increase the criticality, while trade agreements lower criticality for importing countries [7,8]. ...
Article
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Studies on critical natural resources have grown in number over the last decade out of concern for resource availability and its potential impacts. Nonetheless, only a handful of studies explicitly define criticality for natural resources. Through a systematic literature review, we identified four main perspectives in the descriptions of critical natural resources: (1) economic importance is overemphasized at the expense of sociocultural and ecosystem support functions of natural resources; (2) a Western perspective dominates the research discourse; (3) apart from the field of economics, the debate lacks input from social sciences; and (4), non-renewable resources are overrepresented compared to renewables. Based on the current discourse and its apparent inclinations, we propose a new definition of criticality for natural resources aligned with risk theory. We argue for the need to balance out the perspectives described above to provide decision-makers with impartial information for the sustainable management of natural resources.
... In 2009, Japan government established 31 metals as rare metals in the "Rare Metals Security Strategy" list, including the following metals : lithium, beryllium, boron, titanium, vanadium, chromium, manganese, cobalt, nickel, gallium, germanium, selenium, rubidium, strontium, zirconium, niobium, molybdenum, palladium, indium, antimony, tellurium, cesium, barium, hafnium, tantalum, tungsten, rhenium, platinum, thallium, bismuth, and rare earth metal elements. In 2010, the European Commission published the report "EU Key Mineral Raw Materials," which identified 14 essential minerals as critical raw materials: rare earth metals, platinum group metals, tungsten, antimony, gallium, germanium, beryllium, cobalt, magnesium, niobium, tantalum, indium, fluorite, and graphite (European Commission 2010), of which rare earth metals include 17 metal elements and platinum group metals account for six metals; the EU list of critical minerals is updated every 3 years; and the number of essential resources in the list of critical minerals will increase in the future (Bedder 2015;Blengini et al. 2017). In May 2018, the US Department of the Interior launched the final list of "critical minerals" (USGS 2018) and identified 30 mineral metals. ...
Article
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Critical metals are indispensable to a world seeking to transition away from carbon. Yet their extraction, processing, and application leave an unsustainable global environment and climate change footprint. To capture the development dynamics and research emphases of critical metals throughout their life cycle, this paper adopts bibliometrics to analyze the various stages of global critical metal flow in multiple dimensions to reveal the hot issues and future strategic trends. The research results indicate that the number of research papers on critical metals is annually rising, with remarkably rapid growth after 2010. Judging from the number of articles published by the authors and the citations, among the authors, Kawakita, Poettgen, Anwander, Inoue, and Dongmei Cui have a significant influence on critical metal research fields. The institutions with the most research on critical metals are universities, not research institutes. In addition, the focus has extended from a single discipline to the interdisciplinary development of multiple disciplines. Analysis of keywords shows that “rare metals” and “precious metals” are the most popular metals among the researched metals. The researched buzzwords of critical metals are disappearing, convergent, and merging over time. The research has focused on the mining and the whole life cycle process of extraction, treatment, and application. Based on the above characteristics, this paper tries to understand the dynamic development and evolution of global critical metals from multiple dimensions, resorting to giving a reference for follow-up-related research scholars.
... Different countries have used various terms to define and identify minerals of economic importance, usually called critical or strategic raw materials (e.g., [16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28]). Distinctive lists of critical (or strategic) raw materials have also been created in individual countries, among which the United States pioneered the modern conceptualization of strategic minerals [29][30][31][32]. ...
Article
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Sufficient supplies of critical raw materials (CRMs) for rapidly developing technologies, e.g., Li-ion batteries, wind turbines, photovoltaics, digitization, etc., have become one of the main economic challenges for the EU. Due to growing import dependency and associated risk of supply disruptions of these raw materials from third countries, there is a need to encourage their domestic production. This is an important starting point for EU value chains crucial for the sustainable economic growth of the whole Union. This contribution has evaluated the possibilities of CRMs supply from the EU’s primary sources. A three-step approach, including an assessment of CRMs’ importance for the EU’s economic growth, their significance in at least two of the three strategic industrial sectors (i.e., renewable energy, e-mobility, defense and aerospace), and their potential availability from EU mineral deposits, has been applied. Results of the analysis have shown that, of 29 critical mineral raw materials (according to the 2020 EC list), the potential to develop manufacturing from the Union mineral deposits exists for 11 CRMs, i.e., cobalt, graphite (natural), HREE, LREE, lithium, magnesium, niobium, PGMs, silicon metal, titanium, and tungsten, while some other CRMs, namely gallium, germanium, indium, and vanadium can be recovered as by-products. Measures to mitigate EU import dependency have been also proposed.
... Depending on the assumptions, criteria, and methodology of their designation adopted by the authors, the lists of such minerals, referred to as, e.g., critical, strategic, key, and pivotal, may differ significantly. Such assessments, especially in the last decade, have been conducted with the focus on various aspects, e.g., with regard to specific minerals or products, technologies, specific needs, and objectives (e.g., for military security and defense, for energy security, for "clean" energy), as well as to countries (especially highly industrialized, commonly dependent on imports of minerals), regions, organizations, and even the whole world [12], [33][34][35][36][37][38][39]. No standard holistic methodology for selecting critical minerals has been developed so far, although the proposed solutions have many common elements. ...
Article
Full-text available
Secure and sustainable supply of minerals is important for the stable development of a country’s economy, as well as the global economy. Poland’s economic performance—as a dynamically developing country—is also largely dependent on the availability of minerals and security of their supplies both from internal sources and form imports. In Poland, 42 key minerals—i.e., those of fundamental importance for the proper functioning of the economy and satisfying the living needs of the society—have been recently indicated. From among them, 19 key minerals have been recognized by authors as having a proven resource base in Poland and—on the other hand—having moderately- or strongly growing domestic consumption trends. An assessment of the mineral resource base for their production, a sufficiency of the resources of developed deposits, as well as possible means of undeveloped deposits safeguarding were analyzed and discussed. It was found that the long-term needs of the Polish industry can be satisfied only for some of them: coking coal, copper, and silver, as well as numerous industrial and construction minerals. Moreover, existence of a sufficient resource base and appropriate means of their safeguarding may potentially have a significant impact on Poland’s and Europe’s minerals security, in particular regarding several minerals for which Poland is an important supplier to the European market, i.e., coking coal, copper, silver, and elemental sulfur.
... The issue of the minerals' security of the economy in view of decreasing availability of deposits, growing demand of European countries for raw materials and insufficient mineral production, has also been discussed by the European Union in recent years. As a result, since 2011 a list of critical raw materials for the European Union has been prepared and published every three years (Bedder, 2015;Blengini et al., 2017). Distinctive lists of critical (or strategic) raw materials are also created in individual countries, with the United States being the first country, where the modern conceptualization of critical minerals emerged (NRC, 2008;Gunn, 2014;Schulz et al., 2017;McCullough and Nassar, 2017). ...
Article
The paper presents a proposal to designate the minerals of key, strategic and critical importance for the mineral security of Poland. Based on a review of the foreign and Polish literature, differences in defining the terms in question were pointed out. Taking into account existing solutions, the authors proposed a comprehensive methodology of designating key, strategic and critical minerals for Poland. 148 individual minerals were selected for analysis. When determining the key minerals, a criterion of average value of their annual consumption in Poland in the last decade was adopted. This approach had also regard to the general tendency of consumption of a given mineral and the net import reliance index. In the case of strategic minerals, a two-stage analysis was performed. In the first stage, the identification of potentially strategic minerals that are indispensable for the sectors defined as crucial for the country's economic security (based on an expert assessment) was performed. In the second stage, for selected potentially strategic raw materials, criteria of the average consumption value in recent years and the net imports reliance were applied. This was the basis for establishing the list of strategic minerals. To identify critical minerals, the methodology developed for the European Union with some significant modifications was adopted. Primarily, all the minerals previously classified as key and/or strategic were granted the status of high economic importance in Poland, while EU’s evaluation of the value of economic importance (EI) indicator was disregarded. Additionally, the value of the supply risk index (SR), above which minerals were identified as critical, was slightly reduced in relation to that adopted for the European Union, i.e. from 1.0 to 0.9. On the basis of the analysis conducted, three lists comprising 42 key, 24 strategic and 17 critical minerals indispensable for the Polish economy development were proposed. Identification of these minerals is of fundamental importance for further works on the Mineral Policy of Poland.
... Uncertainty Economists have divided natural resources into renewable and nonrenewables but also resources can be subdivided into -strategic‖ or -scarce‖ -critical natural capital‖, -keystone resources‖, and -critical raw materials‖ natural resources, which can become very important in the future and cause disputes among countries. [48][49][50][51][52] For example, the most recent dispute among countries (2019) Green growth is not a replacement for the process of sustainable development, but it provides a practical and flexible approach for achieving concrete, measurable progress across its economic and environmental pillars, while taking full account of the social consequences of greening the growth dynamic of economies. Green growth strategies must ensure that natural resources can deliver their full economic potential on a sustainable basis. ...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract In 2016, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Frontiers report identified a series of global and emerging environmental problems that bring new challenges for the national and international envronmental agencies and sustainable development organizations. In the last 50 yearts scientific research detailed monitoring and statistical records on a global scale prioritised environmental problems for their significance and the need for urgent action. These studies created greater awareness of the environmental problems and the urgent need to take remedial action. For example, urban air photochemical pollution from vehicular exhausts, the stratospheric ozone layer depletion in Antarctica, water pollution by agricultural runoffs and microplastics, soil erosion and desertification, industrial and municipal toxic sewage wastewater, ,damaging acid rain events in the lakes of Scandinavian countries, excessive population growth and urbanization in most continents, deforestation of vast areas of valuable tropical forests loss of biodiversity, climate change, were some examples that threatened natural resources, human health and sensitive ecosystems. But although some of these environmental problems attracted new and strict regulations, restriction of emissions, banning certain toxic and carcinogenic chemicals (microplastics, pharmaceutical and pesticide residues, etc), introduction of green chemistry processes and restriction of certain wasteful practices in indutrial and agricultural sectors, novel emerging environmental problems appeared in the 21st century on a global scale that need new sustainable changes and the introduction of renewable energy sources and reduced use by mankind of non-renewable resources. At the same time old problems like overpopulation, urbanization, energy and food consumption trends, limits to continued unsustainable economic growth of developing countries need to be taken into account. The UN Environment’s Sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6) in 2019 is the latest most comprehensive assessment of the state of the world's environment and emerging environmental problems. The report also offers a rigorous analysis of Earth’s sustainable prospects and the most important environmental issues facing the Earth in the next decades. This review collected some important reports and scientific papers on the emerging environmental problems that will feature prominently in the future.
... On the one hand, Fe as the main alloy constituent is a relatively inexpensive material, particularly when compared to elements such as Co [1], which is the basis of many hardfacing alloys currently on the market (Stellites, Tribaloys, etc.) [2,3]. The latter has also been regarded as a critical raw material at least since the 80's [4], the concern having grown in recent years [5][6][7][8] due to factors such as supply scarcity combined with strategic importance. Cobalt is indeed a key constituent not only of hardfacing materials, hardmetals, and heat-resistant alloys for aeronautical and energy production applications [2,3,9,10], but also of batteries and catalysts [6,8,9,11]. ...
Article
This work studies FeVCrC-based coatings as potential alternatives to conventional Ni- and Co-based alloys for wear protection. Specifically, the microstructure and tribological properties of the coatings are characterized as a function of the particle size distribution of the feedstock powder, of the deposition technique – High Velocity Oxygen-Fuel (HVOF) or High Velocity Air-Fuel (HVAF) spraying – and of specific processing parameters. HVOF-sprayed coatings obtained from fine feedstock powder exhibit numerous oxide inclusions, which provide high hardness (≈ 900 HV0.3) but do not excessively impair fracture toughness, as determined through scratch testing techniques. HVAF-sprayed coatings obtained from the same feedstock powder contain much fewer oxide inclusions, and some of them possess simultaneously high hardness and high toughness. Defects (e.g. speckles) are instead formed in case unsuitable HVAF torch hardware is employed. A coarse feedstock powder always results in unmelted inclusions, which impair the cohesion of the coatings, particularly of the HVAF-sprayed ones. Most coatings anyway exhibit very low sliding wear rates < 3 × 10⁻⁶ mm³/(N m); abrasive grooving and surface fatigue-induced pitting are the main wear mechanisms. Oxide inclusions do not affect negatively the response of HVOF coatings, whereas too many unmolten particles increase pitting under severe test conditions. Rubber-wheel abrasion testing produces comparatively more severe grooving.
... As the critical metals concept has grown in importance a range of methodologies have arisen for analysing a metal's economic importance and supply risk (Erdmann and Graedel 2011;Graedel et al. 2012;Achzet and Helbig 2013;Speirs et al. 2013;Bedder 2015;Graedel et al. 2015). The definition of criticality employed within these methodologies, i.e. economically important metals exposed to severe supply or environmental risks, means primary mine supply is usually seen to be one of the problems making a metal 'critical'. ...
Article
Full-text available
A ‘critical metal’ is one that has important economic uses, but which also faces supply risks for geopolitical or environmental and sustainability reasons. The constrained nature of critical metals supply means proposed solutions to the problem commonly involve reducing demand and therefore reliance, via recycling, substitution and thrifting. However, most critical metals are presently only small markets and therefore such an approach ignores the potential of transformational market growth to reduce supply risk, by creating large, diverse, transparent markets with multiple sources of primary mine supply, akin to modern base metals markets. Research is therefore required into which critical metals have the greatest potential for such transformational market growth. This study therefore conducts an evaluation of 49 critical metals to determine which are nearest to the combined breakthroughs in discovery, supply and demand that may lead to transformational market growth. The study concludes that 13 markets from the 49 critical metals, being magnesium, silicon, barium, boron, lithium, cobalt, chromium, vanadium, gallium, strontium, cerium, lanthanum and scandium have the highest potential for transformational market growth and thus efforts to resolve supply risk in these markets may be better focussed on overcoming current market constraints and growing these markets, rather than lessening reliance by reducing demand.
... A variety of methodologies (e.g. Erdmann and Graedel 2011;Graedel et al. 2012;Achzet and Helbig 2013;Speirs et al. 2013;Bedder 2015;Graedel et al. 2015;Sykes et al. 2016) have arisen for assessing the 'criticality' of suites of metals, so the exact list of critical metals markets varies between sources. Typically these studies cite some of the following as critical metals : antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, bismuth, boron, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, gallium, germanium, indium, lithium, magnesium, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, niobium, platinum group metals, rare earth metals, rhenium, silicon, silver, strontium, tantalum, tellurium, thorium, tungsten and vanadium (NRC 2008;Buchert et al. 2009;APS and MRS 2011;USDOE 2011;BGS 2012;Schulz and Bradley 2013;EC 2014;Sykes et al. 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
Transformational growth amongst the various critical metals' markets would reduce supply concerns for industrial consumers and governments, whilst also providing commercial opportunities for the upstream industry. However, despite rapid market growth amongst some critical metal markets over the last decade, as a group they have lagged the market growth rates of the non-ferrous industrial and precious metals sectors. Research into the growth prospects of the critical metal markets is clearly required; however, their limited economic history and a paucity of data make this difficult. The economic history of the metals and mining industry as a whole, however, is better documented, and thus may provide insights into the potential for market growth amongst the critical metals. This paper therefore reviews the economic history of metals and mining, and in particular, that of the aluminium, nickel and uranium industries in an attempt to understand the key drivers behind transformational growth within the metals' markets. This historical review suggests that a combination of breakthroughs in discovery, supply and demand are required to catalyse transformational market growth; and thus that parties seeking to benefit from the transformational growth of the critical metals' markets must approach these markets in an integrated manner, considering each of the discovery, supply and demand issues in turn, rather than focusing on one specific constraint.
... Tungsten The first paper in this issue examines the approach used by the European Commission to determine just which metals are considered critical (Bedder 2015), and discusses the positive steps taken by the EC to enhance our understanding of (and to enable the finding of solutions to) raw materials issues such as the security of supply of critical metals. However, Bedder (2015) also indicates that there is much more to be done, including dealing with issues over data availability and the environmental impact of critical metal extraction. ...
Article
To ensure the continuity of their activities, companies implement supply chain risk management (SCRM) approaches to reduce their vulnerability towards risks and secure their supply chain. However, implementing SCRM approaches and the effectiveness of risk mitigation depends greatly on the types of risks considered. In this paper, we focus on a specific source of risk linked to critical materials, i.e., the availability and accessibility of raw materials in relation to geopolitical, economic, environmental and/or technical contexts. Critical materials are a significant source of vulnerability for supply chains, and their identification via criticality assessment methodologies is a topic of growing concern. Based on a literature review, we elaborate a conceptual model integrating material criticality assessment into SCRM. This model can be considered as the first step in building a global framework positioning critical materials as a key factor for supply chain risk management.
Article
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The issue of a secure supply of raw materials has regained importance in recent years. A prominent feature of the current discussion has been the identification of 'critical raw materials' and of adequate measures to reduce their 'criticality'. This paper explores the definition, uses and limitations of lists of critical raw materials as a policy tool today and in a historical perspective. It becomes clear that the underlying issues affecting security of supply tend to persist while the identity of the 'critical' raw materials changes due to changing market conditions. The usefulness of shortlists of critical raw materials as a policy instrument therefore depends not only on the degree to which a particular methodology reflects the underlying issues but also on the timeframe chosen for the analysis.
Article
There are two competing views of mineral depletion, described as the fixed stock paradigm and the opportunity cost paradigm. Under the opportunity cost paradigm, mineral depletion is deemed essentially a matter of economics and availability a function of price. Long-term trends in real mineral prices suggest few problems of availability. The paper, however, argues that some of the factors that have kept prices down historically, notably economies of scale, low-cost energy and the opening out of new mineral provinces, may be losing their force, and even going into reverse. It also poses the question whether what is in the ground is the real issue anyway or whether in fact the ultimate constraint on minerals availability lies in the capacity of the planet to absorb the environmental by-products of mineral exploitation.
Article
This study questions recent research [Gordon, R.B., Bertram, M., Graedel, T.E., 2006. Metal stocks and sustainability. Proc. Natl. Acad. USA 103(5), 1209–1214] that concludes that the world is likely to experience a growing scarcity of copper over this century. In particular, it focuses on the methodology used in this work that assumes the usable copper contained in the earth is a fixed amount. While the fixed-stock paradigm is intuitively appealing—after all the earth is finite so the amount of any commodity it contains must also be finite—and used with some frequency by others as well to assess long-run trends in the availability of non-renewable mineral resources, it is flawed and can lead to overly pessimistic as well as overly optimistic expectations. A more useful and appropriate approach, the opportunity-cost paradigm, assesses long-run trends in availability by real prices or alternative measures of what society has to give up or sacrifice to obtain another ton of copper or barrel of oil. This approach indicates that copper could conceivably become less scarce by the end of the century. Whether this will be the case or whether copper will be more scarce, however, depends on a number of factors, including the future course of technological change, whose influence no one can predict with any degree of certainty decades in advance.
Article
Though sustainable development is a relatively recent addition to the public lexicon, concern that resource depletion may threaten the welfare of future generations dates back at least to Thomas Malthus and other classical economists writing nearly two centuries ago. Today the debate over this threat not only continues, but seems more polarized than ever. In one school are the concerned, often ecologists and other scientists and engineers, who contend the earth cannot for long continue to support current and anticipated levels of demand for oil and other exhaustible resources. In the opposing school are the unconcerned, often economists, who claim with equal conviction that the earth with the help of market incentives, appropriate public policies, and new technology can amply provide for society's needs for the indefinite future. That intelligent and informed individuals remain so divided on such an important issue for the future of humanity after years of debate is surprising. The explanation, at least in part, appears to lie with the very different paradigms adopted by the two different groups coupled with quite contrasting views on the beneficence of technology, public policy and the marketplace. The two competing paradigms lead to quite different outlooks on the human condition and in turn on recommendations for public policy.
Article
The importance of a secured supply of raw materials for the European economy is evident. However, securing the supply of raw materials based on an appropriate EU minerals policy has been scarcely treated by the decision-makers in the last decades. Solely the impact of price development of international commodity markets in the last years induces a re-thinking of this field. The EU Raw Materials Initiative, which was published by the European Commission in November 2008, establishes an EU raw materials strategy including a list of actions.
Article
A comprehensive methodology has been created to quantify the degree of criticality of the metals of the periodic table. In this paper, we present and discuss the methodology, which is comprised of three dimensions: supply risk, environmental implications, and vulnerability to supply restriction. Supply risk differs with the time scale (medium or long), and at its more complex involves several components, themselves composed of a number of distinct indicators drawn from readily available peer-reviewed indexes and public information. Vulnerability to supply restriction differs with the organizational level (i.e., global, national, and corporate). The criticality methodology, an enhancement of a United States National Research Council template, is designed to help corporate, national, and global stakeholders conduct risk evaluation and to inform resource utilization and strategic decision-making. Although we believe our methodological choices lead to the most robust results, the framework has been constructed to permit flexibility by the user. Specific indicators can be deleted or added as desired and weighted as the user deems appropriate. The value of each indicator will evolve over time, and our future research will focus on this evolution. The methodology has proven to be sufficiently robust as to make it applicable across the entire spectrum of metals and organizational levels and provides a structural approach that reflects the multifaceted factors influencing the availability of metals in the 21st century.
Article
The criticality of nonfuel minerals is an emerging research subject that captures both the supply risks and the vulnerability of a system to a potential supply disruption. The significance of material criticality for the mass deployment of sustainable and other key technologies is currently obscured by diverse, often immature, and still evolving methodologies. This review explores why principal studies agree or disagree in designating the criticality of certain nonfuel minerals. We survey the literature and analyze several well documented studies in depth, demonstrating that the platinum group metals (e.g., essential for catalytic reduction of air pollutants), and the rare earth elements (e.g., essential for efficient electricity generation in wind turbines) are frequently singled out as critical, albeit by differing criteria. We also discuss the impacts of methodological choices on the designation of raw materials as critical. The treatment of substitutability, time horizons, and the aggregation level of criticality indicators are shown to be significant in this regard. We determine several important issues that have thus far been largely disregarded, especially the justification of methodological components, and policy responses to criticality designation.
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