Uzbekistan and EU to Increase Extraction of Rare Earths, Critical Metals

Uzbekistan is launching a slate of promising projects focused on mining rare earth elements (REEs) worth $500 million. The country has a large stock of REEs that are needed for industrial uses, and with the involvement of foreign partners, it plans to ramp up production. Among the critical raw materials (CRMs) targeted for production are molybdenum, tellurium, selenium and graphite.

Uzbekistan recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Union in the field of CRM development. The memorandum seeks to ensure a diversified and sustainable supply of CRMs for the world’s economic transition to green energy and a more heavily digitalized existence for humankind, including 5G connectivity, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI).

“This agreement with resource-rich Uzbekistan will help the EU secure much-needed access to critical raw materials. It is part of our wider global work with partners to secure the supply of materials for the future. It will be a major boost for Uzbekistan to realize its ambitions to diversify its economy and sustainably develop its extractive industry,” said European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis.

Experts note that Uzbekistan has the second largest reserves of critical raw materials in the region, including deposits of various minerals such as copper, molybdenum and gold. Investing in CRM development will help spur economic growth in Central Asia and increase competition with China.

“China is creating very closed mining and supply chains for rare earth elements. Today, rare earth metals and their production are almost completely monopolized by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). 80-90 percent of rare earth element processing is controlled and carried out directly inside the Middle Kingdom. Beijing hopes that it will be able to use this advantage in international relations, that it will be able to play a dominant role in the emerging new energy and economic architecture of the world economy, which will determine in the future everything from energy to geopolitics,” said Wesley Hill, manager of the international program  called “Energy, Growth and Security” at the International Tax and Investment Center.


Times of Central Asia

Askar Alimzhanov graduated from the journalism department of the Kazakh State University named after S. Kirov, then worked as a correspondent for the daily republican newspaper Leninskaya Smen. He then moved to the United States to be a reporter for the daily newspaper "Cape Cod Times" in Hayanis, Massachusetts, (USA) under the journalist exchange program between the Union of Journalists of the USSR and the New England Society of News Editors. Since then, he has helped build transparency and understanding of Central Asia region in various executive level positions at esteemed media organizations including "Akbar"(Alma-Ata) international center for journalism, the Khabar News agency, the Television and Radio Corporation "Kazakhstan" JSC, and MIR- Kazakhstan.

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