Brussels is particularly concerned about falling behind during the transition to clean technology where China has already made great strides because of its access to raw materials, while the United States has poured billions into subsidies for green tech.
Critical raw materials like cobalt, lithium and tungsten are needed to make the most of the electrical products consumers use today, including smartphones.
China dominates in many clean tech sectors including semiconductors, critical minerals, batteries and solar panels.
"From green and digital technologies to defence and aerospace, demand for critical raw materials is increasing fast," Thierry Breton, EU internal market commissioner, said.
"Without action, Europe risks supply shortages and unwanted dependencies."
The regulation was provisionally agreed by EU member states and the European parliament eight months after it was proposed, a relatively short time by Brussels' standards.
It now needs to be signed off formally by EU countries and lawmakers to go into force.
The push was sparked after Russia's war on Ukraine cut off energy imports and highlighted how dangerous it was for the bloc to be reliant on rivals for key resources.
"Our dependency on raw materials is the Achilles' heel of our competitiveness, but with the Critical Raw Material Act we can turn this weakness into strength," said Spain's deputy prime minister Teresa Ribera, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency.
"We can create a truly European extracting sector; we can turn our waste into a resource; we can build closer ties to third countries and we can secure the life-line of our industry in a truly sustainable way."
The new regulation will see the EU set targets for increasing the extraction, processing and recycling of 34 critical raw materials.
Aluminium was added to that list after the negotiations between member states and lawmakers.
As part of the push it aims to streamline the issuing of permits for projects extracting the vital materials.
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