LONDON, June 21 -- A European Commission expert group report on Thursday labelled 14 raw materials as critical because of supply risks due to their production being concentrated in a few countries.
These countries are China, Russia, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the group said in a release.
"Raw materials are an essential part of both high tech products and every-day consumer products, such as mobile phones, thin layer photovoltaics, lithium-ion batteries, fibre optic cable, synthetic fuels etc." it said.
"But their availability is increasingly under pressure .... This production concentration, in many cases, is compounded by low substitutability and low recycling rates."
The 14 raw materials are antimony, beryllium, cobalt, fluorspar, gallium, germanium, graphite, indium, magnesium, niobium, platinum group metals, rare earths, tantalum and tungsten.
China is believed to have 97 percent of the world's rare earth metals, used in hybrid cars and laser equipment among others, and growing demand is heating up the race to find more sources of these metals.
"Forecasts indicate that demand might more than triple for a series of critical raw materials by 2030 compared with the 2006 level -- for gallium it might increase 20 times," the group said.
"Many emerging economies are pursuing industrial development strategies by means of trade, taxation and investment instruments aimed at reserving their resource base for their exclusive use."
The group recommends the list is updated every five years, action to improve access to primary resources, action to make recycling more efficient and action to encourage substitution.
"Today's report provides very valuable input for our efforts to ensure that access to raw materials for enterprises will not be hampered," said Antonio Tajani, commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship.
"We need fair play on external markets ... It is our aim to make sure that Europe's industry will be able to continue to play a leading role in new technologies and innovation."
Last year the European Union and UK-based Minor Metals Trade Association discussed stockpiling minor metals such as cobalt used in aero engines and rechargeable batteries for hybrid cars and indium used in liquid crystal display screens.
Earlier this month the European Commission and the African Union Commission agreed to cooperate on raw materials and work together, particularly on issues such as governance, infrastructure, investment and geological knowledge and skills.