A Turning Point in Critical Minerals for the UK
During the week of the 29th November, the Critical Minerals Association held a number of events that marked a turning point in the UK’s critical mineral supply chain journey.
On the 29th November, over 300 people from across the UK’s critical mineral supply chain either met in person or joined online to take part in the joint Critical Minerals Association, IOM3 and Geological Society Business Forum conference – ‘Critical Minerals & The UK’s Green Industrial Revolution’.
The day started with a breakfast in the House of Commons where the newly appointed Minister for Industry, whose ministerial remit is the first to include Critical Minerals, the Rt Hon Lee Rowley said:
“The challenges of building resilient supply chains for critical minerals require a different approach to the past 20-30 years.”
The main conference was held at the Geological Society at Burlington House (which risks being forced to move premise next year due to steep rent increases imposed by their landlord, HM Government).
The opening speech was given by Alexander Stafford MP, Vice-Chair of the APPG Critical Minerals who highlighted the often-overlooked geopolitical aspects of global critical mineral supply chains. Following this, a panel of Government representatives outlined their commitment to working with Industry and developing the UK’s Critical Minerals Strategy.
Throughout the day, 28 speakers from throughout the supply chain, discussed topics ranging from ESG compliance to the circular economy, UK mining and midstream, and global supply chains.
The event was sponsored by SRK Consulting, Pensana Plc, Mkango Resources and Hypromag and welcomed representatives from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, BGS, Worley, Satarla, Tungsten West, Cornish Lithium, Cornwall Resources, Cornish Metals, Dalradian, Anglo American, Less Common Metals, TechMet. A recording of the event will be made available for those unable to attend.
The event closed with a speech by Baroness Northover, Vice-Chair of the APPG Critical Minerals, whose intellectual curiosity and understanding of the issues is welcomed by Industry. She highlighted a challenging question from the audience on achieving Net Zero by 2050 - ‘If 1.5C will be out of reach by 2029, are Government commitments talking about the wrong timescales altogether?’
Some of the most poignant words came from one of the closing panels consisting of representatives of Circulor, Minviro, the Natural History Museum, Camborne School of Mines and Britishvolt.
Ben Kilbey, Director of Communications for Britishvolt said in his closing remarks:
“It’s not if we will or if we won’t meet net zero ambitions. It is that we must.”
He went on to say:
“Each one of us here plays an equally important role in delivering the future green economy. Collaboration and cooperation throughout the supply chain is the only way we build a better greener world.”
Following in the words of Ben Kilbey, the Critical Minerals Association and the Australian States of Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia as well as Austrade hosted a small but high-level reception at Australia House on the 2nd December aimed at fostering closer industry and political collaboration between both nations and States.
In attendance were representatives of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department of International Trade as well as leading businesses in the critical minerals sector including BHP, Worley, Circulor and Less Common Metals.
Jennifer MacKinlay, Acting General Manager Europe and Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner highlighted the importance of the UK and Australia in developing shared critical mineral supply chains if either nation are to reach their own industrial objectives.
The speeches concluded with Jeff Townsend, Founder, Critical Minerals Association who closed the week with a simple message:
“We can’t build a better, greener tomorrow if we accept irresponsibility in our critical minerals supply chains today.”
The UK stands at the beginning of its transition to the green economy. If it is to keep pace with its regional competitors, the Government must empower the right domestic market forces to foster growth. Where this may prove difficult for the Government given the post pandemic economy, is that this requires the upstream, midstream and downstream to be built at the same time; something that doesn’t match normal economic models.
There is no simple answer. Implementing strategic investment in each stage can be a driver to attract private sector investment and develop the market forces needed to attract and build an end-to-end critical minerals supply chain. It requires a proactive government who wants the UK to be a part of the global race to net zero.
More information on the Critical Minerals Association can be found at www.criticalmineral.org. To receive updates on our events sign up to our mailing list under 'contact.'
The CMA's Australia website can be found here: https://www.cmaaustraliatakeover.com/
With thanks to everyone who contributed to the organisation of both events!
Article written by Jeff Townsend, Founder, Critical Minerals Association