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PRESS RELEASE - 15th March: Critical Minerals Make Waves in Parliament

PRESS RELEASE: 15th March: Critical Minerals Make Waves in Parliament

Critical Minerals took centre stage for the first time in the UK Parliament with a morning meeting between the UK and Australia and also the first House of Commons Chamber debate on critical minerals in the evening.

The Critical Minerals Association would like to congratulate Alexander Stafford MP, (Rother Valley) on his leading role in highlighting the United Kingdom’s current critical mineral strategic flaws and also providing immediate actionable solutions.

On the morning of the 15th March, Alexander Stafford MP stepped in for All Party Parliamentary Group for Critical Minerals Chairman, Steve Double MP to host the Australian High Commissioner, His Excellency the Honourable George

All Party Parliamentary Group for Critical Minerals

Brandis QC and his counter-part, British High Commissioner to Australia, Her Excellency Vicki Treadell CMG, MVO in a discussion on global critical mineral supply chains.

(Mr Steve Double MP, as he was in a meeting on critical minerals and the downstream with Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary of State, Kwasi Kwarteng MP.)

Both High Commissioners outlined the current international critical mineral vulnerabilities and a desire to find collaborative solutions through a shared supply chains. David Grabau, Australia’s Senior Resource Investment strategist outlined Australia’s ambition to collaborate with the UK, develop its own mid-stream sector and help the UK overcome free-market failings in the monopolised industry.

The British High Commissioner outlined that the Free Trade Agreement between both nations was progressing well and that a joint critical minerals working group had been developed to develop cooperation in this sector. Her Excellency Vicki Treadell CMG, MVO also demonstrated a good understanding of the complexity of the sector and a willingness to find solutions to challenges faced.

The meeting was hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Critical Minerals and was attended by over 80 people representing domestic and foreign governments, industry, academic institutions and finance.

Alexander Stafford MP, then held the first Chamber debate on Critical Minerals as an adjournment debate on the evening of the 15th March.

Mr Stafford’s twenty-minute speech accurately tied the UK Government’s green recovery agenda to the need for a secure critical mineral supply chain. He outlined the challenges faced from China’s monopoly of the midstream to the difficulty in raising finance for critical mineral companies as investors are unwilling to bet against China without government support. He also put forward sensible solutions such as closer critical mineral cooperation within the five eyes and partner nations, building a domestic midstream and finding innovative funding solutions. Mr Stafford outlined that the raw materials midstream could be worth £7 billion per annum to the UK and unlock a further £17 billion per annum serviceable accessible market by 2025.

The Critical Mineral Association welcomes Minister Trevelyan’s response although notes that while some action has been taken there is much that still needs to be done to meet international parity.

The Minister outlined the UK Government’s actions to date including the creation of funding for green energy R&D through the Advanced Propulsion Centre and the Faraday Battery Challenge. The work of these Quangos has been central to ensuring government engagement with the industry and building investment in TRL levels 1-4.

However, the Critical Minerals Association feels the Minister’s speech did not show any future actions that will enable the UK to be secure against the current supply chain vulnerabilities or develop the necessary supply chain steps within the UK and its critical mineral industry to be globally competitive. The UK has a unique opportunity to drive the global response to the critical minerals through the G7 and COP26 meetings later in the year and the UK critical mineral industry hopes this opportunity is not missed.

Minister Trevelyan is new to the brief and we hope that she will engage with the Critical Minerals Association to increase her industry exposure to better understand the complexities her sector faces and find solutions that unlock the UK’s inherent capabilities.

Alexander Stafford MP said:

"Critical minerals are absolutely vital for our low carbon industrial capabilities and post-Covid recovery. In fact, these minerals are becoming more and more important by the day. Without them, our society just cannot function.

"The consequences of instability in the critical minerals supply chain would be terrible for both the economy and our wider net zero ambitions.

"I am so pleased to have been able to lead this important debate. The government must now take swift action to diversify these supply chains and reduce our reliance on unstable providers."

Commenting on this historic day for the critical mineral industry in the UK, CMA founder Jeff Townsend said:

“After years of engagement the UK Critical Minerals Industry finally feels that the message for greater government action to secure supply chains is being heard. If the UK doesn’t move soon, we will fail to secure the building blocks for our industrial revolution. Today marks the start of the UK claiming its leading role in the critical minerals global race."

The 15th March will go down as the United Kingdom’s first steps towards the creation of a critical mineral strategy. However, if the UK wants to be a player in the new economic great game, the Government must be willing to do much more and much more quickly.

The Parliamentary Debate - UK Renewables: Critical Minerals on 15th March 2021 can be found here.

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