21 July 2023 / MATERIE PRIME

Sustainable raw materials: the importance of a responsible approach

Sustainable raw materials: the importance of a responsible approach

Sustainable raw materials are the subject of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in Brussels on 18 July 2023 between the European Union and Chile, as part of the EU’s Global Gateway strategy based on a EUR 300 billion budget for the international development of sustainable infrastructure in response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The objective of the EU-Chile MoU is to initiate a partnership for the creation of sustainable value chains for critical raw materials, such as copper and lithium, of which Chile is one of the world’s leading producers and whose demand is expected to grow strongly in the coming years for electrification and energy transition.
The agreement with Chile adds to the strategic partnerships signed in recent years by the EU with Canada, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Namibia and Argentina.

Sustainable raw materials - what are they?

According to the European Commission’s proposed European Critical Raw Materials Act, published on 16 March 2023, raw material supply chains must not only be secure, diversified and resilient to reduce the risk of possible shortages in the event of international shocks. But also sustainable in environmental and social terms, promoting recycling, circularity and investment in research, innovation and skills

Benefits and impacts of sustainable raw materials

Europe today bases the supply of critical raw materials, necessary for the energy and digital transition, to a very large extent on imports from countries outside the EU, often near-monopolists in terms of mineral production and/or industrial mineral processing capacity and operating in contexts that pay little attention to ESG criteria. The creation of sustainable value chains serves to mitigate the risks of strategic dependence for the EU, thereby improving economic resilience on the road to climate goals

Strategies and solutions for the adoption of sustainable raw materials

The EU-Chile partnership aims to promote the integration of sustainable value chains for raw materials through:
– joint development of projects, business models, trade and investment links;
– cooperation in research and innovation and implementation of tangible and intangible infrastructure to reduce the environmental footprint of raw materials and promote ESG criteria in line with international standards;
– strengthening of education and vocational training.


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