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Italy moves to boost procurement, reuse of critical raw materials

General view shows Sos Enathos mine in Lula

By Giuseppe Fonte

ROME (Reuters) - Italy is set to adopt a package of measures aimed at boosting procurement and reuse of critical raw materials, a draft decree seen by Reuters shows, including simpler permitting procedures for the release of mining concessions.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's government has made it a priority to extract more such materials at home to make local industries less reliant on imports from countries like China.

Italy estimates it can domestically source 16 of the 34 raw materials considered critical by the European Union, including lithium and bauxite.

The draft, promoted by Industry Minister Adolfo Urso, states that projects for the extraction, processing or recycling of these materials are "non-deferrable and urgent."

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Licences for these activities have to be issued within a maximum of 18 months under the scheme, which government officials said could be discussed by the cabinet as early as Thursday.

The government is working within the framework of the EU's Critical Raw Materials Act, a centrepiece of the bloc's strategy to ensure its industry can compete with the United States and China in making clean tech products and accessing the necessary materials.

A provision in the Italian decree is likely to upset Green lobbies, as it paves the way for exploration permits for strategic raw materials to be issued without any environmental impact assessment.

Other measures allow for the reopening of closed or abandoned mining sites, mostly located in the Alps, Tuscany and Sardinia.

Companies holding mining concessions will have to pay the state or local authorities between 5% and 7% per year of the value of their output, depending on whether it takes place on sea or land.

The draft also sets out legislative steps for a long-awaited government-backed fund to support the country's key supply chains.

Sources have previously said that Italy is set to pick state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and asset manager Invimit to run the vehicle, with CDP acting through its majority-owned Italian Investment Fund.

The so-called "Made in Italy" fund will be established with 1 billion euros ($1.07 billion) of state cash, but Rome plans to raise an additional billion euros from other sources outside the public administration.

($1 = 0.9313 euros)

(Additional reporting by Alvise Armellini and Angelo Amante, editing by Gavin Jones and Susan Fenton)