When evaluating the criticality of metals for your company, which aspects have been taken into consideration? How will these aspects be evaluated; and what data sources will be used?

The evaluation approach

The methodology for assessing the criticality of metal supplies was developed by EBP and Empa. Based on analyses of pilot companies, existing evaluation approaches used in science and in practice were adapted to the specific situation applicable to companies in the MEM industries.


The assessment of criticality is based on four dimensions, which are characterized over a total of 10 criteria. The criteria are operationalized and measured using indicators. Criticality is assessed using 5 risk categories:

Data sources

Supply risk

Risk of limited quantities of the metal being available or of their restricted availability due to their price

The assessment of the aspects and the corresponding indicators is based on data on the individual metals collected by the US Geological Survey (USGS).


Natural frequency Geological frequency of the metal


Concentration in the earth's crust Average concentration of the metal in the earth's crust

Dependence on certain countries Dependence on the supply of the metal from producer countries


Mining concentration Distribution of the annual global production between individual producer countries

World Governance Index Quality of governance based, among other things, on political stability, rule of law and right to have a say

Co-production Metal extracted as the main product, co-product or as a by-product of the extraction of other metals


Main product vs. co-product/by-product Supply of the metal dependent on the supply of other metals

Economic importance of co-product The economic importance of the co-produced metal compared to other metals contained in the ore

Demand The trend of global demand for the metal


The trend in global demand The expected change in demand for the metal due to increased production of existing applications and/or new applications

Price volatility Volatility of the global market price for the metal


Relative price fluctuations The range of relative fluctuations in the price of the metal over the past 5 years

Company susceptibility

The company's susceptibility in the event of a limited supply of the metal

The aspects and the corresponding indicators will be assessed from the responses given by the companies to each of the questions in the short questionnaire.


Strategic importance The importance of the availability of the metal with regard to the corporate strategy


Adverse effect on turnover The adverse effect, expressed as a percentage of turnover, due to a restricted supply of the metal

The ability to pass on additional costs The possibility of passing on to customers the increased cost of procuring the metal

The importance to the business The importance of the metal in relation to the corporate strategy

Substitutability The possibility of replacing the critical metal or the semi-finished product which contains this metal by an alternative raw material or semi-finished product.


Availability of a substitute The existence of an alternative raw material or semi-finished product to replace the critical metal or the semi-finished product which contains this metal

The substitute's functionality The suitability of the alternative metal or semi-finished product for manufacturing the product

The substitute's procurement costs The cost of procuring the alternative metal or semi-finished product compared with the original

Capacity for innovation The company's adaptability so as to reduce dependence on the metal


Importance of making savings in the use of materials The importance of taking steps to reduce dependence on the critical metal by making savings in the use of materials

The potential for making savings in the use of materials The potential for the company to make savings in the requirement for critical metals or for semi-finished products containing critical metals

Environmental impact

Adverse effect on the environment due to the extraction of critical metals

Assessing the aspects and the corresponding indicators is oriented towards the results of the ecological assessment of the extraction and refining of the relevant metals. The ecological assessments are based on the ecoinvent database (V2.2) and the ReCiPe 2008 evaluation method.


Environmental impact The overall environmental impact of extracting critical metals


Ecosystems The adverse effect on ecosystems due to the extraction of the metal

Human health The adverse effect on health due to the extraction of the metal

Social Impact

The adverse societal effects of extracting the metal

Assessing the aspects and the corresponding indicators is based on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International (corruption) and on information provided by the OECD (criterion: conflict mineral).


The potential for conflict The potential for societal conflict due to extracting the metal


Conflict mineral Extracting or not extracting the metal in conflict regions

Corruption Perceived corruption in countries where the metal is extracted (corruption perception index)

Interpretation of results

The data base represents the state of knowledge 2015, with an update 2021/2022. The composition of the semi-finished products is to be understood as indicative. In individual cases, other compositions may occur. Further clarification may therefore be necessary.


Since the environmental impact of metals varies greatly, a logarithmic scale was chosen for the 2022 version. As data on the environmental impact of germanium are missing, an assumption had to be made (the data set for gallium was used).

Further information

The following documents and instruments are recommended for more in-depth information:


Support is available from the following actors:

Report and review

The project report is available in German and English. It was reviewed in 2020/21. Important conclusions were implemented within the scope of possibilities, in particular:

  • Update of baseline data for metals within the existing methodology (by Empa).
  • Replacement of «Policy Potential Index» with «World Governance Index»
  • Coverage of «Resource Consumption» under «Supply Risk»
  • Extension of the list of semi-finished products