21 June 2023 – The draft European Critical Raw Materials Act (ECRMA) is missing one important raw material: aluminium. Calls are now growing louder for aluminium to be added to the list due to existing supply difficulties. And Ukraine is planning the green reconstruction of its iron and steel industry, targeting 50 million tons of green steel. Something that should not please the EU steel producers, as they are clearly lagging behind in their own green transformation.
ECRMA: Association calls for inclusion of aluminium in Critical Raw Materials Act
In a position paper on the European Critical Raw Materials Act (ECRMA), the European association ORGALIM, which primarily represents the technology industry in the EU, has called for aluminium and aluminium oxide (alumina), as well as zinc, to be added to the list of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) and Strategic Raw Materials (SMRs).
The ORGALIM position paper on ECRMA states, among other things:
“We regret that aluminium has not been included in the lists of CRMs and SRMs. Our industries are experiencing increasingly frequent challenges in securing a stable and reliable supply of aluminium, which constitutes an essential manufacturing input for many technologies that are at the heart of the green transition. We believe that aluminium should be included in the CRM and SRM lists.”ORGALIM, orgalim.eu
Integration in ECRMA necessary?
With this, the association once again emphasizes the importance of a stable and reliable supply of aluminium and the integration in the ECRMA lists. This has come under increasing pressure in recent years due to geopolitical tensions and the pandemic. This demand pressure is likely to increase further, as aluminium is considered one of the key metals in the green transformation and the EU is dependent on imports.
Ukraine plans green reconstruction of steel industry
According to the government, Ukraine plans to rebuild its iron and steel industry first, as soon as the country is able to do so. The goal, it said, is to seize the opportunity to revive the sector, which contributes 10% to Ukraine’s GDP, with renewable energy and a production volume of 50 million tons of green steel.
“If you have to rebuild, it is logical to rebuild green in line with new technologies … Our vision is to build a 50 million tons green steel industry in Ukraine,” he said.
Doing so would allow the country to become the world’s cheapest supplier of so-called “green” steel – made without the use of fossil fuels – and a major support to Europe’s efforts to decarbonise, driven by an investment push in new wind, solar, nuclear and hydro power.
Ukraine remains realistic in this regard, however, and sees the start of steel industry reconstruction only after the end of the war.
EU steel producers lose out?
This is news that may not please steel producers in the EU. As their transformation process to green steel production is rather slow and overshadowed by constant demands for new subsidies or threats to stop projects (if they would not be funded).
Should Ukraine become a member of the EU in the foreseeable future, which is to be expected, it would replace Germany as the largest steel producer in the confederation. German steel producers, above all major groups such as thyssenkrupp steel europe and ArcelorMittal, would then lose out with their outdated blast furnaces and mills.
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