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Exploring the strategic implications: Graphite and the European Union’s Critical Raw Materials Act

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The European Commission’s Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) has retained battery-grade graphite on its list of strategic raw materials in its final version, reflecting its importance in the context of the push for electrification. The inclusion of graphite, both natural and synthetic, has been welcomed by industry stakeholders, recognizing its critical role in various applications, particularly in battery technology.

However, a provision has been added to reassess the strategic significance of synthetic graphite after three years. This addition has raised concerns among some market analysts, particularly considering the opposition within the EU to initially adding synthetic graphite to the list. Despite this, there’s skepticism about the potential removal of synthetic graphite given its substantial consumption levels in batteries and electrodes.

The dominance of China in the supply chain of anode material for batteries is a significant concern, with China currently accounting for the majority of Asian exports in this sector. The reliance on China underscores the importance for the EU to develop a resilient and diversified supply chain for graphite, necessitating clear regulatory frameworks and possibly further investment in domestic production.

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Recycling of graphite is an emerging area, with efforts underway to develop processes for extracting graphite from batteries for reuse. While progress is being made, commercial viability remains a key consideration, indicating that further research and development are needed in this area.

Overall, the strategic importance of graphite, both natural and synthetic, in various industries including electric vehicles, steel production, and renewable energy technologies, underscores the need for robust strategies to ensure a sustainable and secure supply chain within the EU.

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