Securing critical minerals to secure net-zero

31 January 2022 | Muriel Cozier

UK Government convenes committee which aims to leverage the UK’s extensive research expertise for the development of a Critical Minerals Strategy.

The UK Government’s Critical Minerals Expert Committee has held its third meeting, having been established during the second half of 2021. The Committee aims to leverage the UK’s extensive research expertise for the development of a Critical Minerals Strategy, and is a key element of the UK Government’s Net Zero Strategy, which was released during October 2021.

The Critical Minerals Strategy has a number of aims, these include: Ensuring the UK has a reliable supply of critical minerals, showing leadership to support work on international standards to extend and strengthen the circular economy on technology-critical minerals, and working with industry, including SMEs, to consider how the private and public sectors can better share risks to promote investment and drive innovation.

The first two meetings of the Committee took place in December 2021. During the most recent meeting, held on 28 January, the Committee discussed the development of a ‘UK criticality assessment’, which it is said will ‘define a set of critical minerals according to economic vulnerability and security of supply.’ The assessment is due to be published during 2022. The Committee also discussed emerging priorities for the Critical Minerals Strategy, plans for engaging more widely with the sector and the possible scope of a planned Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre, which it is said will provide ‘ongoing intelligence on the supply of and demand for critical minerals.’

Members of the Committee, which is chaired by Professor Paul Monks, Chief Scientific Advisor at the UK Government’s Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)’ comprise representatives from academia, finance, industry and government. External members of the Critical Minerals Expert Committee include representatives from: Johnson Matthey, British Volt, Jaguar Land Rover, Cornish Lithium, University College London and The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.

Commenting when invited to join the Committee, Jeremy Wrathall, Founder and CEO of Cornish Lithium said: ‘As highlighted at the COP26 Conference, the development of clean technologies…is of great importance and is urgently needed to materially reduce emissions in order to combat climate change. To develop these technologies at the scale required will entail securing significant quantities of the critical minerals utilised to manufacture them. As a result, I believe the creation of this Committee is a positive step in helping the UK’s Net Zero Strategy.’

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