In 2010, the European Commission adopted a list of 14 raw materials considered as critical with regard to their availability, their security of supply and the environmental aspects of their extraction and production. This has been reviewed several times. The new version shall be issued in September 2020. Today, Silicon is considered as critical raw material (CRM).
EUROALLIAGES is following this work with particular attention, and take an active part in the definition of the new list of critical raw materials. Its members believe that ensuring the security of raw materials supply involves not only the opening-up of third country markets, but also the safeguarding of Europe-based production sites.
EUROALLIAGES’ members demand that lessons be drawn from the past in order to avoid making the same mistakes twice, especially when the competitiveness of European industry and the existence of sound value chains in Europe are at stake.
A sad story: the demise of Europe-based Magnesium production
For many years, China has been selling a series of commodities at dumped prices. The country’s sales pattern is to create artificial price volatility within the framework of an abnormally low (and in fact subsidised) cost structure. As a consequence thereof, European producers have been forced to shut down their respective sites, thereby giving Chinese companies the possibility to raise their prices, taking advantage of their new dominant position.
The Pechiney plant in Marignac (France) used to be a competitive producer of unwrought Magnesium. Following untenable unfair competition from China over many years, the Marignac plant was forced to cease Magnesium production in June 2001. This situation ended with the definitive closure of the Marignac site in July 2002.
As a consequence of this plant closure, the EU was left with no primary Magnesium production. This situation has de facto created total dependence on China.
Not surprisingly, Magnesium is now classified as a critical raw material by the European Commission.
Unfortunately, other raw materials are now following the same path. One of them is Silicon, which is namely necessary for the production of photovoltaic cells, medical devices and cosmetics. EUROALLIAGES believes that Silicon should be included in the list of raw materials which are critical for the EU.