21 Oct 2022, 13:40
Benjamin Wehrmann

Russia’s war makes raw material supply strategy imperative for Germany – industry

Clean Energy Wire

The need for a raw material supply strategy for Germany’s industry has become more pressing than ever since Russia has started using resources as a weapon in its war effort against Ukraine, the Federation of German Industries (BDI) has said. “Germany can be blackmailed,” BDI president Siegfried Russwurm commented on the current resource predicament for the country, which has seen its most important fossil fuel supplier break away and which now faces a shortage of key raw materials needed for its transition towards an energy system fully based on renewable power sources. “Contrary to oil and gas, there are no national reserves for critical mineral resources,” Russwurm warned at an industry summit in Berlin, arguing that the “Zeitenwende,” the tidal change in Germany’s geostrategic policy, must also include a greater focus on securing resources. “Especially for critical mineral raw materials like rare earths, the dependence especially on China is much greater for Germany than its previous dependence on Russian energy sources,” the industry federation head said. Russwurm urged policymakers, businesses and society in general to pull together and recognise resource procurement “as a strategic asset for national security.” In a five-point plan, the BDI proposes a “comprehensive” resource policy based on the pillars of secure import sources, domestic supply expansion in Europe and maximised recycling. “No pillar alone can guarantee Germany’s or Europe’s supply security,” Russwurm said, adding that “autarky is not an option.”

 The BDI president said domestic resource extraction projects must be made easier by relaxing licensing procedures and generating a readiness for compromise in society when it comes to accepting mining activities in Germany and the rest of Europe, for example for lithium needed for the transition to electric vehicles. At the same time, resource cooperation with trusted trading partners, such as Australia, should be intensified. Improving recycling rates especially for raw materials used in “future technologies” should be made a new standard in industrial policy to ensure that valuable materials don’t become unavailable to the economy. Circularity as a principle should therefore be “implemented at the very beginning of the value chain, namely in product design,” the industry federation head said.  

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