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Experts advise: Thoroughly analyze Germany’s raw material supply

The date of: 2021-07-05
viewed: 9


The boom in demand for raw materials for electromobility or the development of a hydrogen economy could open supply gaps – advisors to the federal government are now recommending that the economy conduct a comprehensive review of its supply chains. “Good risk management is important for companies,” warns the head of the German Raw Materials Agency (Dera), Peter Buchholz. You should “examine the relevant relationships, identify weak points and work out strategies with the suppliers on how they can protect themselves from failures and strong price volatilities”.

Dera is examining the situation regarding high-tech metals and other basic materials for the Ministry of Economic Affairs, among other things. Together with institutes of the Fraunhofer Society, the specialist department of the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) presented the results of an investigation at a conference on Thursday. A key result is that the demand for eleven metals in particular “could be significantly higher than today’s production level” over the next two decades. The lithium required for e-car batteries is mentioned, as is the cobalt or scandium also contained in other batteries, which is used in hydrogen storage.

Challenges in the supply of raw materials

The same applies to the catalyst material platinum, which – like ruthenium – is also used to manufacture hard drives, and to rare earths that are found in parts of wind turbines, electric motors and magnets. According to Dera estimates, the foreseeable required quantities for some of these chemical elements are likely to exceed the supply by up to nineteen times by 2040.

“In the case of raw materials that are produced in a few countries and therefore have a high concentration of supply in the market, this could lead to new challenges in the supply of raw materials,” it says. Buchholz expects: “With the energy and mobility transition, the demand for metals will increase significantly.” Dera recently pointed out the growing demand for nickel – the metal is important for steel alloys, as well as for battery production.

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