The Netherlands needs to secure raw materials
‘The global shortage of raw materials is threatening the Dutch economy’, foreign minister Uri Rosenthal said at a conference of the Rabobank and the port of Rotterdam. ‘Businesses should not just identify the problem – they need to take action. The government also has a role to play, because the problem is partly geopolitical in nature.’
‘Countries with a monopoly on raw materials, like Russia and China, use this power for political ends. Emerging markets are now buying up raw materials all over the world. It’s not for nothing that the United States is making every effort to become less dependent in respect of energy needs and raw materials. The battle for raw materials is not some distant future scenario. It’s already happening now.’
Scarce raw materials
According to the Minister, 41 raw materials are in short supply, 14 of which are of vital importance. Like germanium for infrared technology and beryllium for x-ray equipment. Phones and LCD screens are also packed with scarce raw materials.
‘The Netherlands needs to look after its interests and secure the raw materials it needs for the future’, the Minister said. According to him this could be achieved through innovation, new technology and cooperation with countries like Germany, Australia and Japan, as well as by using raw materials more effectively. For instance through joint procurement, the creation of reserves of raw materials and energy in the Netherlands, and a greater focus on smart waste processing and recycling.
According to the global management consulting firm McKinsey, a switch to a circular economy would result in savings for European industry of around €500 billion. Mr Rosenthal said, ‘The Netherlands has the potential to make this switch. It already possesses an advanced waste processing system. And the port of Rotterdam is well placed to strengthen its position as the raw materials hub of Europe.’