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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Conradie.

Germany Invests $1.1B in Effort to Compete with China on Raw Materials

The German government has earmarked about €1 billion ($1.1 billion) for raw materials investments as it seeks to reduce dependency on producers like China for critical minerals, according to people familiar with the plan.

A selection process will be established to determine which projects — including extraction, processing and recycling materials — are eligible, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Financing, via Germany’s state-owned KfW development bank, will consist of equity capital to make acquisitions of minority stakes.

Projects in Germany and abroad will “contribute to the security of supply of critical raw materials,” an economy ministry spokesperson said. The ministry didn’t give details on how the state fund would be structured.

Pandemic-triggered supply-chain disruptions across the globe coupled with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exposed the vulnerability of Europe’s reliance on energy and raw materials for high-tech and green projects. Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government pledged to ratchet up efforts to provide access to critical materials over the longer term.

Raw materials including cobalt, copper, lithium, silicon and rare earth metals are needed to make microchips, wind turbines and batteries for electric vehicles.

As Germany’s parliament approved Scholz’s 2024 budget on February 2, the billion-euro fund is to be set up for four years. Investments will be coordinated with Italian and French initiatives in the raw materials sector, the people said. Policymakers will focus on mineral projects defined as critical in the EU’s Critical Raw Materials Act.

Veronika Grimm, a member of Scholz’s panel of independent economic advisers, said the aim of diversifying raw material supplies must be a “top priority” for the EU as a whole.

“The raw-material fund can be an element, but it won’t be enough,” - Veronika Grimm

KfW declined to comment on the plans. The lender is expected to make a statement about its role in managing the project at its annual news conference on February 7. The EU agreed on measures in November under the Critical Raw Materials Act to boost domestic mining and reduce dependency on any one country.

While Germany still has to set up a structure to organize its investments in raw materials, Japan could provide a model. Since 2004, the state-owned Japan Organization for Metals and Energy Security has invested in the storage of raw materials, explored reserves, provided loans or guarantees for commodity companies and bought their shares directly. We previously wrote about Japanese efforts to diversify mineral supply chains here.

Source and Image Source: Bloomberg

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