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UK Critical Minerals Opportunities & Collaborations with Canada @ PDAC 2024

On the 3-6 March 2024, the global mining community descended on Toronto for the world’s largest mining conference, PDAC 2024. At the conference, the Critical Minerals Association (UK) was pleased to co-host a networking breakfast with UK Government for the second year in a row, as well as a panel discussion with UK-based ESG service providers. 


A number of our members attended the event including: Aberdeen Minerals, Circulor, Cornish Lithium Plc, Cornish Metals Inc., Dalradian , Fasken, Giyani Metals Corp., Green Lithium, ERM, Minviro, Satarla, Rio Tinto, Wood Mackenzie, our Canadian partner, the Canadian Critical Minerals & Materials Alliance (C2M2A), and the Natural History Museum.  We’re pleased to see UK presence at PDAC increasing each year and look forward to more to come in 2025. 


Critical Minerals Association (UK)/ UK Government Networking Breakfast - 4th March  


Our 2nd UK breakfast reception co-hosted with UK Government welcomed over 100 attendees on the 4th of March. The event was opened by British Consul General to Toronto Fouzia Younis, followed by opening remarks by British Deputy High Commissioner to Canada David Prodger, and Founder & CEO of the Critical Minerals Association (UK) Kirsty Benham.  

The Rt Hon François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry gives a speech at the UK breakfast at PDAC.

We were honoured to welcome special guest, the Rt Hon  François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry. He highlighted the importance of cross-industry partnerships between OEMs and mining companies, and called upon all stakeholders to collaborate and be ambitious. The UK and Canada share a special partnership, one that should be maintained and built upon. He also showed the audience the important First Nation Critical Minerals Strategy, which had been launched earlier that day. 


The UK has no better friend than Canada, in a world fraught with uncertainty, instability, high interest rates, high inflation, and high costs of energy; stability, predictability and the rule of law are in high demand and short supply and this is what Canada and the United Kingdom can certainly bring to the world…People here are excited, this is a momentous time between our two nations and the world.’ - Rt Hon François-Philippe Champagne. 


David Prodger noted the importance of the Science and Innovation Agreement signed in January between Minister Champagne and the UK Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan, and highlighted the role of civil servants in ensuring that MoUs deliver real results. He argued that the UK and Canada are two of the countries which are best suited to deliver in the critical minerals and mining sectors. 


Kirsty Benham raised the important role of UK critical minerals companies, and how industry, investors, government, and innovators should come together across both nations and build the mining, midstream and recycling projects that will improve supply chain resilience and fill gaps in each supply chain.   

British Deputy High Commissioner to Canada  David Prodger; Founder & CEO of the Critical Minerals Association (UK) Kirsty Benham; British Consul General to Toronto Fouzia Younis

Our members, Satarla, Minviro and Cornish Lithium meeting with Minister Champagne at our joint CMA (UK)/ UK Government breakfast and Marilyn Spink, C2M2A asking the Minister a question.

UK Government – The UK Opportunity Panels and Presentations – 4th March 


Following the success of the breakfast, the UK Department for Business & Trade and High Commissions in Ottawa and Toronto arranged a series of presentations and panels to highlight UK opportunities. British Consul General to Toronto Fouzia Younis moderated the event, outlining the importance of UK-Canada trade and the key role of critical minerals.  


Presentation on the UK Department for Business and Trade offer delivered by Christopher Lofthouse, Responsible Mining Lead

The first presentation on the role of the UK Department for Business and Trade was delivered by Christopher Lofthouse, Responsible Mining Lead, who outlined the services that the UK can develop to support mining projects, as well as public finance options for critical minerals and UK critical minerals companies. John Kell MBE, Principal Specialist & Account Manager (Automotive Sector Team) presented a downstream perspective, and highlighted the need to build capabilities and funding opportunities that currently exist. There were subsequently a number of excellent presentations from local businesses organised by Cornwall Trade & Investment and Invest Northern Ireland. 


Gavin Mudd, Director of the UK Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre (CMIC), shows a map of UK mineral prospectivity.

Gavin Mudd, Director, & Pierre Josso, Deputy Director of the UK Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre (CMIC), presented on the UK critical minerals list and methodology. They noted the importance not just of ensuring a rigorous process for criticality, but also flagging the element of subjectivity when it comes to critical minerals lists, as well as recognising the importance of our values in setting the methodology and criteria for these lists. As CMIC is part of the British Geological Survey (BGS), the UK’s mineral prospectivity was also highlighted. 

A Fireside Chat on How to Effectively Engage Indigenous Partners with David Prodger, Deputy High Commissioner, Max Skudra, Partner at Mokwateh &  JP Gladu, Principal of Mokwateh

A Fireside Chat on How to Effectively Engage Indigenous Partners, was moderated by David Prodger, UK Deputy High Commissioner, and the audience heard from Max Skudra, Partner at Mokwateh &  JP Gladu, Principal of Mokwateh. The panellists noted the importance of mining companies getting the relationship right with indigenous leaders and starting a relationship from the beginning. Companies need to know what communities want, and in order to do this, they need to build trust. The slowest process of relationship building is the fastest way to get the job done. JP emphasised that if communities are not included in decision-making, they are going to push back. The opportunity to develop the local workforce, with young communities who want to stay close to home, was also mentioned.  


CMA (UK) Panel Discussion - UK ESG Opportunities 

During this event, the Critical Minerals Association (UK) organised a panel discussion with our members to highlight UK opportunities in ESG. The speakers were: 

  • Sarah Gordon, CEO & Co-Founder, Satarla 

  • Lydia Bridges, Sustainability Consultant, Minviro 

  • Fearghal Kearney, Vice-President Sales, Circulor 

  • Irene Bopp, Partner, Mining Impact, ERM 


CMA (UK) members lead an insightful panel on ESG, moderated by Sarah Gordon with Fearghal Kearney, Lydia Bridges, Irene Bopp 

The panel agreed that the UK is a trustworthy jurisdiction to lead the way in ESG, and pointed to the UK’s strengths as a financial hub, convening location of major miners, research and development, skilled labour force, access to technology, ideal geographical location and its stability and reliability, as to why their organisations are located in the UK. 


The panellists also discussed the challenges faced by industry in understanding ESG legislation across multiple jurisdictions. Irene said that we should make it easier for companies to understand ESG better, highlighting how ERM has developed a tool called mine assure that allows mines to assure they adhere to standards. It is a way of giving control back to industry to make good choices and make a positive difference. Circulor noted the need for global alignment, using the lack of an agreed global carbon measurement as an example of the importance of clarity in standards. They noted how mandating the Taskforce for Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) made a big difference in furthering its implementation. 


Planning and integrating ESG at the earliest stages was also discussed. Lydia from Minviro noted how ESG should be incorporated from the very beginning, at the point where you have enough data but not too much infrastructure to be unable to adapt the project. ERM conducted a study around how many mine projects are delayed, for reasons such as permitting, financial delays, and identifying critical habitats, and Irene noted the importance of planning effectively in the scoping phase on stakeholder mapping and socio-economic analysis. 


Sarah then highlighted how accountants will have to sign off ESG reports, and therefore it is important to highlight why ESG/sustainability should be of interest to stakeholders such as the CFO. Irene also noted that accountants are concerned about the bottom line, and wouldn’t want to invest unless there is some form of return, hence the need to show that poor choices around ESG end up costing more for projects.  


One of the conclusions was that the UK is a trustworthy jurisdiction to lead the way in ESG, and should build on the existing standards that exist. It was great to hear from leading UK experts on this topic, and the CMA (UK) hopes to continue to contribute to the important conversation of ESG in mining as we progress the development of alternative and responsible critical mineral supply chains 


Building UK - Canada Connections  


Canada’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Minister Wilkinson & Jérôme Pécresse, Chief Executive, Aluminium, Rio Tinto at the Invest in Canada forum.

Once again, the ‘Canada Investment Forum,’ by Invest  in  Canada, Natural Resources  Canada and Global Affairs  Canada did not fail to deliver. At this event, Canada’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Minister Wilkinson shared plans to implement a permitting dashboard for transparency around timeframes, as well as service standards for these processes. The timeframes would look into how long processes would be expected to take, and challenge public services on delays. He iterated the importance of alignment between federal and provincial processes, to avoid asking companies to provide the same information twice. “You will be seeing a much more detailed action plan from the federal government in terms of the steps we are proposing to take in the next few months,” he announced. 

CMA (UK) enjoyed catching up with our Canadian partner, Canadian Critical Minerals and Materials Alliance (C2M2A), as well as NRCAN and the Governments of British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon. 

UK Organisations @ PDAC 

Catching up with the British Geological Survey team.

A number of CMA (UK) members were in attendance at PDAC. We joined ERM’s very well attended networking reception and panel discussion on the 3rd of March. We caught up with Cornish Metals, who have recently completed the installation of their water treatment plant and are moving on to the next stage of their project development, as well as Satarla, at their usual booths. We were also delighted to catch up with a full British Geological Survey (BGS) team – Kathryn Goodenough, Pierre Josso, David Schofield, Gavin Mudd. 

ERM's insightful networking event. Meeting with Cornish Metals and Satarla at their booths.

At the Natural History Museum booth with Professor Richard Herrington, Head of Earth Sciences Department. Visiting the Australia stand and speaking with the Governments of Queensland and South Australia for CMA Australia. 

The Critical Minerals Association (UK) is proud to support the growth of the UK’s presence at PDAC each year. Thank you to Department for Business and Trade, the British High Commission, Ottawa, the British High Commission, Toronto, David Prodger,  Fouzia Younis, for highlighting UK opportunities, and to Mary Ellen Cotter, Yannick Detchou and your colleagues for your work in organising these events.


Thank you to Minister Champagne and his excellent team for joining our event and showing your support for the important UK-Canada relationship on critical minerals and innovation. We look forward to continuing this collaboration and to increasing the UK’s presence at PDAC in 2025, and continuing to build on UK-Canada ties on critical minerals! 

Article by Kirsty Benham, Founder & CEO, Critical Minerals Association (UK)

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