LONDON, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Metal producers and consumers urged the European Union to invest more in expanding processing capacity for minerals critical to the energy transition, such as those used in electric vehicles, as the bloc finalises its plans for the year ahead.
In a letter sent to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, industry association Eurometaux said the EU Innovation Fund, which focuses on the decarbonisation of energy intensive industries, should also include critical minerals.
Von der Leyen's State of the Union address next week will outline priorities and initiatives for the year to come.
"Today China controls not only large shares of cleantech manufacturing, but also 50-90% of the critical minerals processing capacity needed for those, as well as many global resources," Eurometaux said.
"The US is fast catching up with its mammoth investment package under the Inflation Reduction Act, while Europe's investment climate has been further worsened from the ongoing Ukraine conflict."
The letter was signed by companies including Rio Tinto Norsk Hydro, Albemarle, Umicore , Northvolt, Solvay and Aurubis.
It said the EU Innovation Fund could support the processing of critical minerals by replicating the model of the EU's Hydrogen Bank, which was created to help with the cost differences between renewable hydrogen and fossil fuels.
The EU's Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform, set up to boost investments in clean technology, "is neither sufficient nor targeted enough", Eurometaux said.
"Crucially, it lacks focus on the critical minerals value chain, failing to provide new, long-term and targeted support to scale conversion, processing ... and refining operations," the letter said.
(Reporting by Pratima Desai; editing by Philippa Fletcher)