On 11 July 2018, the CRM Alliance hosted a roundtable entitled: “Critical Raw Materials for the Defence Industry: A Dialogue with Policymakers”. The event gathered key players from the defence and aerospace industry, the European Institutions and Critical Raw Material producers to discuss: (i) the EU 2017 CRM List, (ii) the status of the CRMs on the list and its implications and (iii) the use of CRMs in the defence and aerospace sector.
The event kicked off with a presentation from Dr. Claudiu Pavel from the Joint Research Center who discussed the 2016 JRC Study on raw materials in the European defence industry and the methodology used to identify the key materials necessary for defence applications. As noted in the JRC Study, twenty of the thirty-nine materials fundamental for the defence industry are CRMs, one third of which are sourced from China. During his intervention, Dr. Pavel subsequently discussed the specific CRMs used in defence applications such as in a jet aircraft, a military submarine, a battle tank and in both the naval and land sector.
Following Dr. Pavel, Mr. Richard Brewin, Energy & Environment Project Officer at the European Defence Agency, took the floor to discuss the supply risk of CRMs. In particular, Mr. Brewin underlined how dependency alone does not entail a supply risk of a CRM. Indeed, supply risk is associated with other factors concerning the country of origin where the material is sourced, such as political stability, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law and control of corruption. Mr. Brewin also presented a cobalt case study to describe the above and concluded his presentation underlining the need to reduce EU-dependency through developing mining policy frameworks, increasing primary production and increasing end of life recycling input rates.
The event concluded with a keynote speech from UK MEP Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR Group), who confirmed that the defence industry is heavily dependent on CRMs, eleven of which are 100% sourced outside the EU. MEP Van Orden concluded with his speech by underlining the recent developments on defence and security partnerships between EU Member States, also in light of the upcoming withdrawal of the UK from the EU.