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CMA Midstream Paper Launch

On 13 March 2023, the Critical Minerals Association (CMA) were delighted to welcome Industry and Government at the Materials Processing Institute for the launch of our latest paper, ‘Midstream Processing and Refining: Unlocking Security of Supply’!

(From left to right) Eileen Maes, CMA; Jeff Townsend, CMA; Olimpia Pilch, CMA; Ian Townsend, Rock Art Consulting; Lucy Smith, Materials Processing Institute.

One of our members, the Materials Processing Institute is a research centre serving organisations that work in advanced materials, industrial decarbonisation, the circular economy and digital technologies— a vivid example of the expertise and talent the UK already possesses and must support and elevate if it wishes to secure a just energy transition.

We were delighted to welcome stakeholders from across industry and government, such as Stephen Hall from Advanced Alloys, Ian Mellor from Metalysis, Andrew Dobrzanski from Energy Efficient ICT, and Martyn Cherrington from Innovate UK.

The day began at 12pm by welcoming our guests at the Fitzgerald Suite. CMA’s International & Business Manager and co-author of the Paper, Olimpia Pilch, delivered an opening speech detailing and thanking the many contributors behind the creation of the Paper. This Paper would not be possible without the aid of Jeff Townsend, co-founder of CMA; Lucy Smith and the Materials Processing Institute; Georgia Rigoni and Less Common Metals; Sean Sargent & Milan Thakore at Green Lithium; Pensana; John Walker and Tees Valley Lithium; and numerous others who provided insightful feedback.

Ian Townsend (Rock Art Consulting), co-author of ‘Unlocking Security of Supply’, delivers a presentation to attendees about the findings of the Paper.

The microphone was then passed to the Paper’s other co-author, Ian Townsend, who delivered a presentation on the findings of the Paper and why the need to develop the UK’s midstream is so urgent. ‘Unlocking Security of Supply’ delves into the opportunities that lie ahead for the UK to secure a greater portion of its critical minerals needs. The demand for critical minerals required for net-zero technologies alone is forecasted to increase sixfold by 2050. The UK's ambitious decarbonisation and green economy goals cannot be achieved without access to secure, reliable, and responsible critical minerals supply chains, but the midstream sector is currently heavily monopolised by China.

Western nations are racing to secure their critical mineral needs and break reliance on China’s supply. The US has introduced the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the EU their Critical Raw Materials Act, and Canada and Australia have invested billions in cultivating domestic industry. All the while the UK keeps falling behind due to a lack of concrete Government action and strategic investment in the domestic critical mineral industry.

The UK will not be able to meet its critical mineral needs through extraction and recycling alone, and will ultimately continue to rely on imports of critical minerals. To regain some security of supply, the UK should thus cultivate its midstream sector to ensure it is not vulnerable to sudden supply chain disturbances.

CMA recommends the UK Government to take urgent action on the following:

  • Incentivise and accelerate investment into UK Midstream and Downstream processing;

  • Enable the decarbonisation of critical mineral supply chains and accelerate access to renewable energy;

  • Align government departments on the importance of critical minerals;

  • Leverage UK freeports to promote international business;

  • Extend the UK’s commercial power by supporting UK critical mineral companies operating overseas;

  • Invest in the next generation of critical mineral leaders.

The programme continued with a presentation by Lucy Smith, Ventures Lead at the Materials Processing Institute. She provided an overview of some of the brilliant innovation projects the Institute is undertaking, such as hydrogen-direct reduction of iron, recycling of waste materials, and lithium-ion battery production.

Co-founder of the Critical Minerals Association, Jeff Townsend, gave a warm thank you to attendees for making the trip to Middlesbrough, before leading them into the next room for lunch and refreshments.

The day’s speeches ended with a final thank you from Jeff Townsend. Guests were then invited for an hour of drinks, food, and networking. We were delighted to see several of our midstream members attending, such as Green Lithium and Pensana, and other midstream companies such as Ionic Rare Earths, Advanced Alloys, Metalysis, AMTE Power, and HyProMag. We were also delighted to host representatives of UK Government, such as Grace Humphries from the Department for Business & Trade and Martyn Cherrington from Innovate UK, a branch of the UK’s national funding agency investing in science and research.

Jeff Townsend and Olimpia Pilch welcome Grace Humphries, Senior Policy Advisor at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

After lunch, Paul Kitson of the Materials Processing Institute led an exclusive, one-hour tour of the Institute’s facilities and projects. Those on the tour included Allan Walton from HyProMag, Danny McNiece from Pensana, Martyn Cherrington from Innovate UK, Grace Humphries from the UK Government’s Department for Business & Trade, Lee Constable from Ionic Rare Earths, Ian Townsend from Rock Art Consulting, and Olimpia Pilch & Eileen Maes from the Critical Minerals Association. The group had the exciting opportunity to see and learn more about the Institute’s resources and current and upcoming projects.

Paul Kitson details the processes behind the Institute’s blast furnaces and industry-leading machinery, before leading the group on a tour of the Institute’s other warehouses and projects.

Thank you to those who travelled to Middlesbrough to attend the launch event, and thank you to those who have supported, downloaded, and shared the CMA’s Midstream Paper. The development of the midstream sector plays a crucial part in determining the UK’s security of supply for the net-zero transition, and we thank you for supporting the cause and the Association in its efforts to unite Government and Industry.

To download the full paper, please visit ‘Reports’ on the CMA website. The link is live and available here.

Should you have any questions about the Paper, please reach out to the paper’s co-author, Olimpia Pilch, at

For questions about the event, please reach out to Communications Associate, Eileen Maes, at

All photo credits go to Andrew Watson from the Materials Processing Institute.

Article by Eileen Maes, Public Affairs & Communications Associate

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