Supplementary evidence from Minor Metals
Trade Association (MMTA) (SIM 20a)|
Q. What legislation is it that means you must
pay £70,000 for a letter of acceptance to import Titanium?
The EU Chemical Directive (dubbed REACHRegistration,
Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) is a pernicious law
that came into existence over the last few years.
It is a cradle to grave directive governing the import
into the EU of all substances (with a very few strange exceptions,
such as oil, coal and uraniumpowerbase too big perhaps?).
Pure elements, compounds, alloys have been swept into this law.
In my own case, as a small British family company,
founded in 1953, with net worth £2 million, the cost of full
registration of all the elements that we have hitherto been occupied
with would cost as much as the net worth of our company.
The way the law works is that for certain elements/substances
which are thought not to require the later stages of evaluation
and authorisation, a lead registrant must undertake, as per a
consortia, to carry out certain tests on that elementmutagenicity,
aquatic toxicity, carcinogenicity etc
in the example I have
given of Titanium, there is a consortium of interested parties
(consumers, producers etc) who will have come together to institute
These tests run into hundreds of thousands of pounds
and the consortia recoups its money from others, like ourselves,
who later wish to trade the metal but are not so strongly funded
as to be in the consortia. In our case, we then obtain the right
to trade the element via what is called a "Letter of Access".
This price is set at a figure which relates to the overall cost
of the registration, evaluation or otherwise of that element,
divided proportionately by the numbers of those who wish to have
access. We just asked for the cost of this LOA and it was estimated
I gave Titanium as an example as it is a common element
needed in wide areas of UK and European industry. We trade over
20 different substances per year.
The effect of these punitive costs, apart from the
reduction of the market and tendency to create monopolies (because
the number of small firms like ours will be reduced) is to deter
use of the metal and free availability of it in the market place,
driving up costs in UK and Europe and making us (yet again) less
competitive with China and other parts of the world who do not
have the same standards.
All would be fine if any of us believed that the
EU Chemical Directive would serve the purpose to which it was
intendedie protect EU Citizens lives from the inadvertent
contact with harmful effects of substances.
In practice the law is just a pernicious and draconian
tax, with lawyers, accountants and laboratories earning very large
sums to the detriment of innovation in Europe.
When I said that I felt that this law heralded a
dark age in Europe, I meant what I said. It has been the main
driver in the last five to 10 years deterring investment in manufacturing
and scientific use of substances in Europe.
Anything at all that could be done to mitigate or
roll back this law would be in the best interests of the UK.
There is much more to be said hereabout, for
example, the way testing is carried out on animals quite unnecessarily
because the tests themselves on some elements are 4th form sciencebut
the law also dictates that previous knowledge on elements and
substances may not be used and only new tests according to good
lab practice as determined also by EU should be used.
Let me give you just one examplein the case
of Rhenium, its toxicity was tested on rats in 1934, nine years
after this element was first discovered and separated. This information
was deemed invalid and new costly tests now have to be carried
out. Translate this across to the millions (truly millions) of
substances and you can see why they are building tower-blocks
in Brussels to house the bureaucrats needed to implement this
I was one of those who represented our industry in
Strasbourg at the time the law was in process and no one wanted
to hear our case and this law went through on a show of hands.
I have written this in haste at the start of my trading
day. But it is very kind of you and your committee to be asking
the right questions!
Minor Metals Trade Association
17 February 2011