New critical minerals task force will advise UK government on supply chains

3 May 2023 | Muriel Cozier

‘We need to be able to trust in our critical mineral supplies […]’

The independent Task & Finish Group on Critical Minerals Resilience for UK Industry has held its first meeting. Commissioned by UK Business and Trade Minister Nusrat Ghani, the group will advise the government on where dependencies exist in the UK’s critical mineral supply chains and how industry can protect its supply.

Members of the group, which has been drawn from key industry sectors that depend on critical minerals include: Andy Walker, Technical Marketing Director at Johnson Matthey; Thomas Birk, BASF, Vice President UK & Ireland/Managing Director; Helen Kennett, Director of Government Relations, Rolls Royce; and Steve Elliot, Chief Executive of the Chemical Industries Association.

The first meeting of the group follows the publication of the UK government’s Critical Minerals Refresh, which was released on 13 March 2023. The document sets out a ‘refreshed approach to delivering resilient critical mineral supply chains and demonstrates [the] government's sustained commitment to securing the long-term supply of critical minerals for UK industry.’

This latest group of experts follows on from the UK government’s Critical Mineral Expert Committee, which was set up during the second half of 2021. This committee focused on leveraging the UK’s extensive research expertise for the development of a Critical Minerals Strategy.

Katherine Bennett CBE, Chair of the Critical Minerals Task & Finish Group and CEO High Value Manufacturing Catapult said: ‘We need to be able to trust in our critical mineral supplies […] The cutting-edge technologies of today and the innovations of tomorrow are only possible if we have secure supply chains.’

In a 2021 report, The role of critical minerals in clean energy transitions, the International Energy Agency said: ‘The data shows a looming mismatch between the world’s strengthened climate ambitions and the availability of critical minerals that are essential to realising those ambitions.’

During the final quarter of 2022 the UK government announced that it was supporting the establishment of Europe’s first large-scale lithium refinery, located in Teesport, Middlesbrough, UK. Green Lithium’s 50,000 tonne/year refinery will produce enough lithium hydroxide to enable the production of more than 1 million electric vehicles each year.

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