The path of raw materials: Selected metals and their way into the European Union

The path of raw materials: Selected metals and their way into the European Union

The graph shows the import structure of six selected metals – iron, aluminium, copper, tin, platinum and lithium – and the links between certain resource-rich countries and the EU. Highly relevant imports do not only affect the ores themselves, but also other products in the value chain: metals, alloys, intermediates and finished products.

The analysis of the six selected metals carried out as part of the project Strategic Dialogue on Sus-tainable Raw Materials for Europe (STRADE) showed South America’s outstanding role in European imports of lithium and the two bulk metals iron and copper. These imports are linked to a number of opportunities and challenges – such as job creation, socio-economic development from mining – but also challenges such as tailings dam bursts, water scarcity and local conflicts due to environmental pressure and socio-economic problems. The primary production of other metals is associated e.g. with violent social conflicts (platinum from South Africa), maritime ecosystem degradation by offshore mining (tin from Indonesia) and missing links to socio-economic development (bauxite from Guinea). Processed goods are often imported from other regions. China and Russia in particular play an important role for the European manufacturing industry.

The contents shown in the infographic are based on data from UN COMTRADE, International Alu-minium Institute, BIObyDeloitte, European Copper Institute, USGS, BGS and Oeko-Institut’s own assumptions.

Detailed information in the policy paper "EU raw material import flows – acknowledging non-EU environmental and social footprints" (2/2017):…

Further information on the STRADE Project and current publications at:

Posted by Oeko-Institut e.V. on 2018-04-23 07:22:06

Tagged: , metals , iron , aluminium , copper , tin , platinum , lithium , Raw , Materials

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