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The European Union and Ukraine signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) covering critical raw materials and batteries as the 27-country bloc tries to diversify supplies following disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move is part of the European Commission’s Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials announced in September to bolster supplies of materials vital to sectors including aerospace, defence, electronics, automotive and renewable energy, as well as energy-intensive industries and the health sector.

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmygal signed the MoU in Kyiv during a EU-Ukraine conference.

“Securing a sustainable supply of raw materials is an essential prerequisite for delivering on green and digital transition objectives,” Sefcovic said ahead the visit to Kyiv.

“Developing cooperation with the EU … is of strategic importance to us and will help integrate mineral supply chains and strengthen strategic resilience during post-pandemic recovery,” Shmygal said.

The EU last year updated its list of critical raw materials to include bauxite, lithium, titanium and strontium. China provides 98% of the EU’s supply of rare earth elements.

To power up e-car batteries and for energy storage alone, the EU estimates it will need up to 18 times more lithium by 2030 and up to 60 times more by 2050.