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Countdown to a crisis?

How the global crunch on natural resources is threatening to derail Europe’s PV industry

There could be trouble brewing for Europe’s PV industry in the wake of a decision over mineral mining, taken in Beijing. The Chinese Government wants to severely restrict the mining of rare metals in the country, and the problem for us in Europe revolves around rare earth minerals – a group of metals which are critical to the EU’s engineering industry as a whole – not just PV. China, which accounts for 97 per cent of global production, has imposed a steep decrease of export quotas on a number of rare metals since 2005 and is now considering a full export ban as of 2015.

In November 2009, the European Commission presented a new integrated strategy for raw materials, suggesting three pillars for the EU’s policy response to different challenges related to access to global resources:

* Better and undistorted access to raw materials on world markets
* Improved conditions for raw materials extraction within Europe
* Reducing the EU’s consumption of raw materials by increasing
resource efficiency and recycling


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