Brussels is betting on Spanish minerals to which Morocco claims rights

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MADRID – The European Union is pushing for national plans for the exploitation of critical minerals, including those in the Canary Islands, an area also claimed by Rabat.

The European Commission has called on Member States to develop national plans for the exploitation of critical minerals essential for the energy transition. According to the new European Critical Raw Materials Act, at least 10% of these raw materials must come from the EU itself by 2030.

This also has consequences for Spain, which has rich reserves of lithium in Extremadura and cobalt in Córdoba. A specific focus is on Monte Tropic, an undersea mountain near the Canary Islands, which is also claimed by Morocco.

Geopolitical tensions

Monte Tropic is rich in strategic minerals such as cobalt, telurium, rare earths and lithium. While the European Union strives to secure these raw materials for its energy transition, the Kingdom of Morocco has had claims in this area for years. Meanwhile, recent legislative moves in Morocco indicate an intention to solidify these claims.

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Environment and legislation

“This law will oblige Member States to invest in mines. In Spain we have many of these raw materials, but we face a dilemma regarding the environmental impact of mining,” said experts in the sector. Recently, Spain’s Minister of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, withdrew from a summit on the extraction of critical minerals, raising questions about Spain’s involvement in this issue.

International dependence

The EU emphasises that despite efforts to increase production within the Union, there will still be a dependence on imports of critical raw materials. “International trade remains essential. The EU must strengthen its global engagement with reliable partners to diversify investments and promote the stability of international trade,” the European Commission said.

Also read: Protests in Spain against open pit quartz mine

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