Is Europe forgetting Italy on critical raw materials? Report

Is Europe forgetting Italy on critical raw materials? Report
Is Europe forgetting Italy on critical raw materials? Report

Does the list of crucial raw materials drawn up by the European Union take into account Italy’s needs? Here are the critical points highlighted by a study by Criet

CRIET, the inter-university research center in local economics linked to the University of Milan-Bicocca, recently published a new study on non-energy raw materials. The report aims to identify the Italian need for basic materials for industrial production, but its reading reveals a considerable distance between the supply needs of our country and those defined by the European Union.

THE CRITICISM OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

Angelo Di Gregorio, director of CRIET, said in fact to the Sole 24 Ore that the list of critical raw materials drawn up by the European Commission – that is the list of raw materials considered crucial for the economy of the block – was not created starting “from real needs, but from the world of dreams, the one in which the energy transition takes place on time and in the ways envisaged by the Brussels programs, which are still evolving as evidenced by the debate on gas and nuclear power “.

CURRENT AND FUTURE NEEDS

Di Gregorio thinks that it is “risky to make excessive leaps forward, neglecting the materials necessary to safeguard our current productions”. In short, according to the professor, it would be more useful to focus on current needs rather than projecting oneself into an industrial future that is not entirely defined: the European list mainly includes metals for the new sectors of sustainability, such as lithium and cobalt for batteries; scandium for fuel cells; silicon for electric vehicle chips. The supply chains of many of these elements are controlled by China.

THE ITALY-EUROPE CONVERGENCES

Debora Tortora, professor at Bicocca who coordinated the CRIET study, added that “perhaps Italy has lacked authoritative bargaining in the EU, because many of the materials that are critical to us in the European list do not appear”.

Among the main raw materials imported from Italy in 2015, only three of these are on the European list of critical materials: there is bauxite, the most important for pre-pandemic Italy (5.2 billion euros in 2019, then overtaken by gold). Bauxite is a rock necessary for the production of alumina and, consequently, of aluminum. Crucial for Europe and purchased in considerable volumes from Italy are also titan (used in the aerospace, chemical and biomedical sectors) and the platinum group (necessary for the manufacture of catalytic converters for vehicles).

For the rest, Italian imports of critical materials such as cobalt, rubber and magnesium are relatively limited.

AND THE DIVERGENCES

Absent from the European list but critical for Italy are molybdenum, manganese and chromium (used for some alloys) and kaolin (intended for the ceramic industry).

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