Critical metals

Critical metals

How Swiss industry can look ahead.

In April 2016, a workshop on the topic of ‘Data Network for Critical Raw Materials’ was organised by the ESM Foundation, MatSearch Consulting Hofmann, Empa and Life Cycle Consulting Althaus with assistance from SATW.

The term ‘critical raw materials’ refers to raw materials (and in particularly metals) defined by the European Union as being urgently needed for this economic location in the future but presenting a supply risk that poses problems for the European economy – this includes rare earth elements as well as other elements such as indium, cobalt, tungsten and many more.

European Union information on ‘critical raw materials’


‘Data Network for Critical Raw Materials’ workshop

Participants from the worlds of research, industry, medium-sized companies, associations and politics came together to discuss ways in which Switzerland could respond to the threat of a supply bottleneck for critical raw materials. Moderated discussion groups tackled the impact of critical raw materials on the Swiss and European markets. They identified obstacles preventing the topic from being suitably prioritised by companies, isolated the key stakeholders involved, and discussed ways of establishing greater transparency in the field of critical raw materials.

The greatest challenge was identified as being not a lack of data, but rather a confusing flow of information, few opportunities for companies to individually gain information, and a lack of knowledge regarding strategies for handling a shortage of raw materials. The greatest challenge facing Switzerland and Europe is to increase awareness of the issue posed by reliable availability of raw materials.

This short brochure (in German and French) offers an overview of the topic, focusing on Switzerland in particular.

Links to relevant projects with Swiss involvement

Metal Risk Check (in German)

ProSUM Project 

SusCritMat Project 

EcoInvent Database

Horizon 2020

Further literature