Romania offers rare earths to enter lucrative battery market

Romania is hoping to join the European Battery Alliance by renewing operations at three mines that produce rare metals.

Romania is re-opening mines for rare earth minerals to lure investments in electric battery plants, joining a Europe-wide initiative that aims for a bigger share of the global market.

The government is renewing operations at three mines that produce rare metals, including europium and dysprosium, for the first time in three decades, Economy Minister Niculae Badalau said in an interview in Bucharest. Talks with electric battery manufacturers are ongoing for an investment of more than 50 million euros ($57 million), he said.

“We want to become a member of the European Battery Alliance,” Badalau said. “That will ensure that at least one of the factories to produce electric batteries currently planned by several companies will be located here,” he said, without naming the potential investors.

Romania is hoping to join the European battery network through Radioactiv Mineral Magurele SA, a company that traces its roots to uranium production and later rare metals during the communist era.

Among international companies expanding battery production in the region or searching for its raw materials, Daimler AG and Johnson Matthey Plc have announced plans to build plants in Poland, while Rio Tinto has been exploring lithium extraction in Serbia.

The European Commission set up the battery alliance in 2017 as part of its push toward cleaner industries and to support investments in the market whose value is estimated at over 250 billion euros per year from 2025. That offers an opportunity for Romania to tap mines that have been shuttered due to outdated technologies and financial losses.

(By Andra Timu and Irina Vilcu)

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