The European Commission has published an update to the EU Critical Raw Materials list, identifying “raw materials with a high supply-risk and a high economic importance to which reliable and unhindered access is a concern for European industry and value chains”. This third version of the list (first published in 2011, 2014) now lists 27 Critical Raw Materials, following a detailed assessment conducted by external consultants (TNO), Commission expertise and stakeholder consultation, and using a methodology which has been improved to take into account trade factors, different industry sector uses and substitution potential (possible nutrient recycling in the case of phosphate rock). The 2014 list included phosphate rock, representing phosphorus (in any form) essential for food production in mineral fertilisers, animal feed minerals and imported animal fodder. Phosphate rock is maintained in the 2017 list, and following input from ESPP and industry, the specific form white phosphorus (P4) is also added to the list. P4 is essential to a number of added-value chemical sectors, such as fire safety, lubricants, polymer additives, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, catalysts, metal processing and is produced in specific production installations. Europe’s last such installation closed in 2012 (Thermphos, NL), leaving these sectors of EU industry totally dependent on imports of P4 or P4 derivatives from Vietnam, China or Kazakhstan. ESPP welcomes the inclusion of P4 onto the Critical Raw Materials list because this will stimulate development of processes to upcycle P4 from secondary raw materials, so contributing to the Nutrient Circular Economy, creating jobs in the EU and reducing import dependency of high-value EU industry sectors. ICL, for example, is developing industrial implementation of the RECOPHOS process, tested at pilot scale in Leoben, Austria, with EU FP7 R&D funding.
COM(2017)490 “Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the 2017 list of Critical Raw Materials for the EU”, 13th September 2017 http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2017/EN/COM-2017-490-F1-EN-MAIN-PART-1.PDF