Europe wind and steel industries urge EU to diversify critical minerals list

A wind turbine stands out against the sky as the sun sets over the Black Forest Brandenkopf lookout
A wind turbine stands out against the sky as the sun sets over the Black Forest Brandenkopf lookout near Oberharmersbach, Germany, November 13, 2022. REUTERS/Joachim Herrmann

LONDON, Jan 26 (Reuters) - The European steel and wind industries on Thursday urged the European Union to use upcoming legislation to ensure there is enough access to critical materials for green energy, including those that are not already targeted such as glass fibre.

The EU is due to unveil its Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) on March 8 to secure the bloc's supply of critical raw materials, including lithium, cobalt, manganese and rare earths needed for electric vehicles (EVs).

"The CRMA must break Europe’s dependency on a handful of exporting countries," said a joint statement from industry groups WindEurope and Eurofer.

Europe is dependent on China for rare earths and core materials for making glass fibre, which along with scrap metal, the two groups say should be included in the critical minerals category of materials needed for green transition.

Rare earths are used for permanent magnets in EVs and wind turbines while glass fibre is used for wind turbine blades.

"The act must cover all the key materials needed in industries delivering the green transition. That means secondary materials such as glass fibre as well as raw materials such as rare earths," said WindEurope Chief Executive Giles Dickson.

The two sectors are interdependent - steel is used for building wind turbine towers while wind energy will be a key driver to help the steel sector cut its carbon footprint.

Scrap steel has been overlooked as critical to Europe, the groups said.

"Despite its critical importance for a successful decarbonisation of the steel sector and its value chain, scrap is the most exported waste stream from the EU to third countries," the statement said.

European Commissioner Thierry Breton this week urged European financiers to provide more funding to suppliers of the minerals.

Reporting by Eric Onstad. Editing by Jane Merriman

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