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31 May, 2021

Strike in Chilean nickel mines prompts calls for European-mined battery minerals

Last week’s strike at BHP's Escondida and Spence copper mines in Chile led to a sharp increase in the price of copper, one of the key minerals in batteries for the electric revolution, along with nickel and lithium. A production stoppage in globally significant copper mines such as Escondida and Spence has a direct impact on supply and price. 

The above scenario is a typical example that demonstrates how vulnerable our supply chain is, and why self-sufficiency in Europe must be improved. Today, about 75 percent of all the minerals and metals needed for batteries is produced in South America, China and Africa.

The European Commission has already declared that the situation is unsustainable. Therefore, last autumn it presented a comprehensive plan for a sustainable and secure supply chain for several critical metals and minerals in Europe. In brief, the plan is based on the premise that in the field of battery minerals, the EU should strive to become self-sufficient.

This means that all countries with critical raw material resources according to the EU's priority list must also contribute to this goal, which will be realised in part through increased exploration and production to find and extract these raw materials. At Eurobattery Minerals, we are committed to providing battery minerals sourced from different European-based projects. We want to work hand in hand with decision-makers and other key stakeholders to make this a reality. 

We cannot realise the vision of a climate-neutral Europe while risking labour rights, human health and environmental conditions in other parts of the world. 

The good news is that Europe has every opportunity to contribute to an environmentally friendly, ethically responsible and stable supply of battery minerals to our domestic green tech industry through our own mining production. First of all, we have minerals and metals in the ground in Europe. We also have strict laws and regulations governing both the environment and labour conditions. Our mining companies work with the latest technology for safe mining with minimum environmental impact. In addition, several research collaborations are under way between academia and industry in Europe to constantly improve and develop methods for exploration and extraction. 

With all its experience and knowledge, Europe has the opportunity to take the lead in enabling a sustainable supply chain for the green transition. But a change of attitude is needed – we simply need more mines in our backyard for the sake of the climate. 

Roberto Garcia Martinez

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