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

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

We wish you a pleasant reading!
In this issue
CRM Alliance Updates
  • CRM Alliance webinar
  • BeST BeResponsible webinar
  • Cobalt Institute launches "Responsible Cobalt" website
  • i2a postpones 2020 Antimony Day
  • IMA holds webinar on Mg Thixomolding
  • JSW feels effects of COVID-19
  • InSIDER webinar series
  • Indium Corporation attends trade shows
  • Small Business Research Initiative
  • MMTA publishes latest Crucible
  • T.I.C.'s 61st (virtual) General Assembly
  • The Barytes Association welcomes new President
  • IMERYS announces 2020 Trade shows and events

Public Consultations
  • CRM Alliance welcome new members
  • Commission publishes CRM List and Action Plan
  • EU Parliament adopts Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability
  • The EU's push for sustainable batteries
  • What to expect from EU trade review
  • Global trade declines due to COVID-19
  • Brexit negotiations continue as deadline approaches
  • Commission moves ahead with Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism
  • Commission aims to modernise energy rules
  • European Parliament adopts Taxonomy Regulation
  • EU Commission significantly increases targets for EU Green Deal in State of the Union
CRM Alliance Updates
CRM Alliance webinar
On 30 June 2020, the CRM Alliance hosted its first virtual conference!

Please access the report summerizing the event here.
BeST BeResponsible webinar
On 25 June, BeST hosted the BeResponsible webinar on the Beryllium Voluntary Product Stewardship Program!

You can access the webinar report here.
Cobalt Institute launches "Responsible Cobalt" website
The Cobalt Institute has launched a new website The website is an information hub highlighting the importance of responsibly sourced cobalt.
i2a postpones 2020 Antimony Day
Considering the current pandemic, i2a was forced to postpone the fourth edition of the Antimony Day.
They will announce a new date soon.

More information is available here.
IMA holds webinar on Mg Thixomolding
IMA has hosted a webinar to present new developments in Mg Thixomolding technologies. You can access the presentation and recording of the webinar here.

Additionally, IMA will host a Conference Webinar Series from 13-20 October. More information is available here.
JSW feels effects of COVID-19
Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa (JSW) has published an article outlining how the current pandemic has affected their business.

You can access the article here.
Indium Corporation attends trade shows
Indium Corporation will attend and exhibit at more than 50 trade shows worldwide.

Please find the list of different events here.
Small Business Research Initiative
BETA Technology has helped securing funding and opportunities to market innovative logistics app.

Read more about the small business research initiative here.
MMTA publishes latest Crucible
MMTA has produced its newest edition of the Crucible. MMTA members may access the publication here” using the link to the website.
T.I.C.'s 61st (virtual) General Assembly
T.I.C. is organizing its General Assembly and Annual General Meeting on 12 October 2020. For the first time, the event will take place online.

More information is available here.
The Barytes Association welcomes new President
In June, the Barytes Association appointed a new President Mr. David F. Henrick.

More information is available here.
IMERYS announces 2020 Trade shows and events
IMERYS has published the list of trade shows and events they will attend the coming months.

You can access the list here.
CRM Alliance welcomes new members
The CRM Alliance has the pleasure to welcome two new members. Amerocap and Vanitec will join our alliance and support our objective to ensure a secure supply of CRMs on the European market. Amerocap is in international company with a dedicated division on mining activities. Amerocap Mining Ventures seeks to invest in mining assets in Central and Eastern Europe and focusses on building a platform for Critical Raw Materials.

Vanitec is the international trade association representing the vanadium industry. Vanitec is based in the United Kingdom and has 26 member companies, including some large corporations form the United States, Australia, China and Europe.
EU Publishes 2020 CRM List and Action Plan
On 3 September 2020, the European Commission released its long awaited fourth edition of the Critical Raw Materials (CRM) list and action plan. The CRM Alliance welcomes the addition of four new critical raw materials and the EU’s renewed effort on securing the supply of materials crucial to Europe.

The new list added four materials – bauxite, lithium, strontium and titanium – and has removed helium gas. This brings the list up to 30 substances, which is a record number of materials included on the EU’s CRM List.

Shortages of strategic metals and minerals needed to produce renewable energy technologies could threaten the EU’s climate ambitions. The newly released action plan shows the urge to secure a continuous supply and to build critical raw materials resilience. It proposes 10 measures to charter a path towards greater security and sustainability: launch of an European Raw Materials Alliance; developing sustainable financing criteria for mining activities within the EU Taxonomy; promoting R&I; mapping the potential supply of secondary CRMs; identifying European mining and processing projects and investment needs; developing expertise and skills in mining, extraction and processing technologies; deploy earth observation programs; develop CRMs Horizon Europe projects; develop strategic partnerships for a diversified supply of sustainable CRMs; and promoting responsible mining practices.

The strategy strongly emphasizes securing CRMs through exploration, investment and improved recycling. The CRM Alliance welcomes the Commission’s efforts to diversify supply chains and to promote recyclability. We regret, however, that there is little detail provided in terms of developing primary CRM production in the EU. The CRM Alliance believes that the EU has the potential to extract a greater amount of key raw materials domestically, such as lithium, tungsten or tantalum, and to re-shore supply chains on European soil.
EU Parliament adopts opinion on Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability
On 10 July, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the European Union’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, calling on the Commission to step up action against hazardous chemicals. The primary objectives for MEP’s, as highlighted by the file’s rapporteur Maria Spyraki (EPP), is to better protect our health and the environment. The European chemicals industry is encouraged to develop safer and more sustainable alternatives, reduce exposure to endocrine disrupters and pesticides, encourage green innovation and end toxic recycling. Additionally, many MEP’s support the promotion of “one substance, one assessment” to avoid duplicate studies and accelerate harmonization of European chemicals laws.

During the public consultation period in May-June, the CRM Alliance submitted suggestions that were more industry-friendly, which can be seen here. The CRM Alliance has concerns about this resolution, and proposed the following recommendations:
  • Specific mention of the particular roles of critical raw materials (CRMs),
  • Dedicated regulatory framework recognising non-substitutional use of CRMs in many key applications, such as batteries or solar panels, and
  • Decrease the burden on industry to comply with increasing requirements, and ensure predictability and transparency.
The EU's push for sustainable batteries
On 19 May, Vice-President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič met with industry stakeholders from the European Battery Alliance (EBA) and European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice-President Andrew McDowell to discuss how the EBA can contribute to the EU’s post-COVID-19 recovery. Batteries are currently seen as a key factor in Europe’s green recovery and indispensable to enhancing the strategic autonomy and resilience of European industries, mainly by reducing third country dependency. Consequently, the European Commission launched a public consultation in June to update battery legislation in line with the European Green Deal.

This initiative will ensure that all batteries are produced sustainably and can be easily recycled. The CRM Alliance submitted its suggestions during this period, which can be viewed in its entirety here. The CRM Alliance agrees with the Commission in regard to ensure sustainability in the battery industry but recommends the Commission to establish a regulatory framework that facilitates access to/use of CRMs by recognising the properties that improve lives, and their non-substitutable use in battery technology.
What to expect from EU trade review
In June 2020, the European Commission announced that they will review the EU’s current trade policy. The public consultation on the topic was originally due 15 September; however, to make sure all stakeholders’ views are heard, the Commission delayed the deadline for the EU Trade Policy Consultation until 15 November. European Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan believes that the EU’s trade policy should reflect the idea of “Open Strategic Autonomy” to re-affirm the EU’s global leadership and ambitions, and to create a more geopolitical European Commission. This concept should also reinforce a more sustainable version of globalization. Moreover, Commissioner Hogan believes that the EU should ensure stronger trade defence measures and diversify its supply chains.

In July, DG Trade provided an outline that the trade policy review will cover, including three main elements: resilience, green and digital transformation, and a level playing field.

The CRM Alliance welcomes these initiatives but recommends that the Commission addresses the importance of value chains and the role of critical raw materials therein. The Commission recognizes that the pandemic has exposed the EU’s vulnerability and dependency related to the supply of materials necessary in the health sector. However, they fail to recognize the importance of CRMs in building more resilience, in enhancing digitalization, and in enabling the green transition.
Global trade declines due to COVID-19
COVID-19 has caused a steep decline in global trade in 2020. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published its latest Economic Outlook this September, which stated that the coronavirus has led to the deepest recession in nearly a century. The Outlook recommends that supporting healthcare systems, people, and businesses is crucial during the recovery and post-coronavirus adaption phase. The report also calls for diversification in sources, larger holdings of stock and development of more resilient supply chains.

Back in May, the European Commission published a report on the economic implications of the Coronavirus on EU trade. At the time, the Commission estimated that the coronavirus pandemic would decrease the global trade by 10-16% in 2020. For the EU Member States, the reduction is expected to be between 9-15% for exports and 11-14% for imports from non-EU countries. Additionally, the World Trade Organization (WTO) released a statistical analysis on global trade on June 22nd that reflected slightly more optimistic numbers. Due to COVID-19, merchandise trade dropped 3% from first quarter of 2019 and 18,5% in the second quarter.

However, the WTO notes that, despite the serious drop, the situation could have been much worse, and the “worst-case” predictions made earlier in the year are now unlikely to occur. This can primarily be attributed to the rapid fiscal and monetary global policy response that softened the impact of the pandemic. Second, the gradual passing of the pandemic and expectation of income support may have encouraged consumers to maintain higher consumption rates. Third, the output decline mostly occurs in the service and non-tradable sectors.

However, the outcome on the global economy has still been severe and the long-term effects of the coronavirus impacts are still to be determined.

Read more on the OECD Outlook here.
Brexit negotiations continue as deadline approaches
On 9 September, the UK released the draft of the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill, which was met with heavy criticism by the EU. The bill would give the UK government the power to change aspects of the EU withdrawal agreement at will – a legally binding deal governing the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU earlier this year. Additionally, the EU has accused the bill of not maintaining the Good Friday Agreement, which protects free travel and trade between Ireland.

This bill has built upon previous negotiations in May, when the United Kingdom published their draft legal agreement for a future relationship with the EU. The UK released a series of legal texts aiming to reboot the negotiation process. Among this series of texts are a free trade agreement, a fisheries agreement and an energy agreement. On market access, the EU has made it clear that it will not lower its standards for UK imports, which would undermine the level playing field for EU companies.

In addition to these documents, the UK also published its draft legal proposition for the Northern Ireland Protocol. In their draft legal proposition, the UK defines a “customs area” as one that removes internal tariffs and has a common attitude to external trading partners and mentions that Northern Ireland will regain “regulatory independence”. The document specifically mentions that it has no intention in creating an international border in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The UK also underlines that the Northern Ireland Protocol is not codified as a permanent solution, meaning that Northern Ireland would still have the ability to review the Protocol every four years.

During the negotiations, the UK officially announced that they do not want an extension of the transition period. The transition period will thus end on 31 December 2020 as agreed upon in the Withdrawal Agreement. The EU reaffirmed this and is committed to achieve a close and ambitious partnership with the UK.

As of September 2020, the negotiations between the UK and the EU have been stalled and no significant progress was made during the latest round of negotiations. The negotiating parties are still far away from an agreement on issues such as the level playing field, fisheries, law enforcement, and mobility and social security. With many of the commodities trade in the UK, this is a matter to follow for the CRM sector.
Commission moves ahead with Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism
The Commission is currently trying to develop the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. The mechanism aims to reduce the risk of “carbon leakage” and to significantly reduce the EU’s carbon emissions. The initiative is part of the EU Green Deal Package and is planned to be introduced by 2021.

The adjustment mechanism would be a border tax aiming to protect European steel producers and other energy-intensive industries against cheaper imports from countries with less strict climate policies. EU importers of steel, aluminium or other products with high carbon footprints will need to buy carbon allowances, as EU producers do under the EU Emission Trading System.

The CRM Alliance agrees that the carbon tax might be a good way to ensure a level playing field, but fears that the proposed measures may prove to be inefficient for this goal. In this regard, the European Commission has opened up consultation to gather stakeholders’ views which runs until 28 October.
Commission aims to modernize Energy Rules
The European Commission has opened up a consultation on the revision of Directive (EU) 2018/2001 (REDII) on the promotion of the use of renewable energy sources. The public consultation aims to assess the degree to which EU renewable energy rules can contribute to the EU’s climate ambitions and aims to explore how to accelerate the EU’s transition towards a more integrated energy system. The consultation will run until 21 September 2020. Additionally, the Commission is holding a consultation for the EU Green Deal - a revision of the Energy Taxation Directive – which can be viewed here. The main objectives are to align taxation of energy products and electricity with EU policies, which will help the EU reach climate neutrality by 2050. The deadline for consultation is 14 October.

These reviews aim to target those sectors where renewables have not yet been successfully deployed and sectors that are considered ‘hard-to-decarbonize’. The critical raw materials industry is often seen as energy intensive and could therefore be significantly impacted by some of the proposed measures. The CRM Alliance will participate in both consultations to avoid stricter regulatory measures and higher energy efficiency targets that could significantly increase the financial and administrative burden on the CRM industry.
European Parliament adopt Taxonomy Regulation
On 18 June, the EU Commission welcomed the European Parliament’s adoption of the Taxonomy Regulation. The Taxonomy Regulation aims to boost green and sustainable private sector investments and is a key asset to achieve the goals set in the EU Green Deal. The endorsement of the European Parliament follows the adoption of the regulation by the Council on 10 June. The Commission has launched a call for applications to launch the Platform on Sustainable Finance. The platform will function as an advisory body composed of actors from the private and public sector. Its main task will be to assist the Commission in preparing technical screening criteria for the taxonomy tool (i.e. delegated acts). The exert group will also advise the Commission on the further development of the EU Taxonomy to include other sustainability projects and to provide more advice on sustainable finance.

CRM Alliance has applied for membership of the Platform on Sustainable Finance and aims to include CRM related activities on the ‘green list’ of projects. CRM Alliance also submitted comments for feedback on the Sustainable Finance Strategy, stating that the EU should review different investment plans enabling climate neutrality by 2050 in light of the current COVID-19 crisis, and reconsider the feasibility of the targets set in the Green Deal. The EU should also analyse its green objectives while considering the socio-economic impacts caused by the pandemic and should guarantee economic competitiveness.
EU Commission significantly increases targets for EU Green Deal in State of the Union
During the State of the Union on 16 September, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen announced that the Commission would aim to increase the 2030 emission reduction targets from 40% to at least 55% in order to make Europe the first climate neutral continent. She stated 37% of the Next Generation EU (NGEU) funding would be spent on the objectives of the European Green Deal. Additionally, the Commission announced a target of raising 30% of the NGEU €750 through green bonds.

The President stated that NGEU should invest in “lighthouse” European projects with the biggest impact, such as hydrogen, renovation and creating 1 million electric charging points. NGEU will create new European Hydrogen Valleys to modernise European industries, power vehicles and develop rural areas.

The increase in targets to reduce carbon emissions has the possibility to affect businesses and industries dealing with critical raw materials. CRM Alliance will continue to monitor the Commission and will respond to any calls for evidence in future consultations.
Public Consultations