Critical raw materials

Secure and sustainable raw materials

Critical raw materials are natural resources that are essential for the functioning of key sectors of the economy, such as aerospace and defence, but have a high risk of supply disruption. Critical raw materials include metals such as nickel, aluminium, titanium, and rare earth elements, as well as non-metals such as graphite and phosphorus.

Why are their important for aerospace and defence?

Aerospace and defence products are largely made of critical raw materials, which give them unique properties such as high strength, light weight, heat resistance, and magnetic performance. For example, modern fighter jets contain over 400 kg of rare earth elements, submarines more than 4000 kg, and satellites more than 100 kg.

What are the challenges for Europe?

The aerospace and defence industry is strategically significant for Europe, as it contributes to its security, sovereignty, innovation, and competitiveness. However, the industry faces a major challenge: it has an almost exclusive reliance on raw materials imports, mainly from China, which controls more than 90% of the global production of rare earth elements. This exposes the industry to critical dependencies and vulnerabilities, especially in an international environment that is increasingly marked by geopolitical tensions and trade disputes.

ASD follows closely and supports ongoing EU initiatives aimed at securing the supply of critical and strategic raw materials, such as the European Critical Raw Materials Act, the European Raw Materials Alliance, and the European Battery Alliance. ASD calls for the recognition of the whole of aerospace and defence ecosystem as strategic technologies, because they are economically and technologically intricately linked.

ASD also promotes the exchange of best practices and the development of innovative solutions among its members and stakeholders, to foster a more circular and sustainable use of raw materials in the sector.

ASD Papers

Explore ASD papers on issues relating to critical raw materials