On 15 March 2016, the CRM Alliance came together in Brussels to discuss the next review of the CRM list with one of the lead consultants, Mr. Elmer Rietveld from the Dutch research organisation TNO. The meeting started with a presentation by Mr. Rietveld, followed by a Q&A session. During his presentation, Mr. Rietveld outlined a number of steps and challenges for the project team, such as defining the raw material, based on terms of reference, and defining the scope of the criticality assessment.
According to Mr. Rietveld, a particular challenge for the project team is identifying which stage in the value chain is the most important i.e. the most critical – the extraction or processing stage. This decision is essential, as it will determine which bottleneck the project team will apply the new methodology – developed by the Joint Research Center – to. Some of the Alliance members noted that placing the bottleneck at the extraction phase overlooks the “host metals principle” and the role of existing critical raw materials as important alloying elements. This can be seen, for instance, in the case of materials like beryllium and magnesium.
Following the meeting with TNO and during the lunch session, a founding member of the MEP Interest Group on Critical Raw Materials, MEP Dr. Paul Rübig of the European People’s Party gave a speech. In his speech, Dr. Rübig stated that: “critical raw materials will play a more important role at the political level”, adding “that there is a need to map and reserve areas in Europe for extraction and production of these materials”. Other topics that Dr. Rübig discussed included the EU’s aid for trade scheme, capacity building in developing countries, the circular economy, and Horizon 2020.
After lunch and during the CRM Alliance’s General Assembly meeting, members discussed a number of topics, including the study on ‘Data for a Raw Material System Analysis: Roadmap and Test of the Fully Operational MSA for Raw Materials’, funded by the European Commission. During this discussion, members highlighted a number of inaccuracies in the study and expressed concern over how the data will be used. In addition to this, members discussed policies of interest to critical raw materials, such as trade, REACH and the upcoming report on critical raw materials in the new circular economy package.