Critical Minerals Industry Taskforce report published
The Task & Finish Group on Critical Mineral Resilience for UK Industry has submitted its report to the Minister of State for the Investment Security Unit, and Minister for Industry and Economic Security, Nusrat Ghani MP.
The report provides insight on sector risks for six priority industries – aerospace and defence, automotive, chemicals, electronics, energy, and medical technologies – and makes both overarching and sector-specific recommendations for Government and industry to bolster UK critical minerals supply chain resilience.
Minister of State for the Investment Security Unit, and Minister for Industry and Economic Security, Nusrat Ghani MP, said, 'I launched this Task & Finish Group – the first of its kind on critical minerals anywhere in the world – to investigate the supply chain risks that UK industry face and I thank them for their report setting out the opportunities to bolster the UK's resilience. This work is delivering on the aims of our Critical Minerals Strategy, and I look forward to responding to its recommendations in full early next year.
The report reinforces the challenges that industry and government collectively face in securing, refining, processing and manufacturing in a competitive geopolitical climate.'
IOM3 CEO and Vice-Chair of the Task & Finish Group Dr Colin Church CEnv FIMMM, said, ‘In order for the UK as a whole to make sure it is as well-placed as it can be to weather the vagaries of critical raw material supply chains, it is vital that industry understands its own position properly and can communicate this clearly to Government. This Report gives us all a much better insight into the most critical raw materials used by some key industrial sectors in the UK, which should help individual businesses in those sectors take a long hard look at their specific supply chains and help guide future Government action.
If, working together, Government, industry and other players can implement the Report’s recommendations, the UK will be in a stronger position to ensure we have access to the resources necessary to make the transition to a low-carbon, resilient and resource-efficient society. IOM3 looks forward to continuing its role to help drive action on critical raw materials.’
The top 10 most important critical raw materials (CRMs) for UK industry are identified in the report with a cross-sector and sector-by-sector analysis that outlines the key dependencies and risks associated with their value chains. It also includes an assessment of industry resilience, a vision for future UK resilience, a summary of future trends and recommendations to UK Government and industry.
Aiming to provide concrete follow up actions for both the UK Government and industry to increase CRM resilience, the overarching recommendations are:
- Develop a long-term vision on industry resilience that includes CRMs for the UK
- Enhance CRM supply chain transparency though improved data availability to support decision making
- Build on the UK’s competitive advantages and develop its midstream economy
- Take a shared approach between Government and Industry to build a robust circular economy for CRMs
- Implement strategic international partnerships, trade deals, friend shoring
- Adopt a holistic approach to assess the environmental and social impacts of CRM supply chains
- Support UK skills and innovation development
Key sector-specific risk assessment findings include:
Aerospace & Defence
- Highly specialised materials limit substitutability and inhibit recycling
- Superalloys require minor metals whose supply is dependent on the extraction of other primary metals
- The UK’s supply chain is primarily reliant on semi-finished materials and components, limiting visibility of CRM supply risks
- UK industry is reliant on few jurisdictions to provide CRMs needed to produce advanced technologies
- Evolving battery chemistry with no single global approach leaves future CRM demand unknown
- Use of Rare Earth Elements in electric vehicles are needed for key design elements with limited upstream supply diversification
- Industry is increasingly dependent on copper for the vehicle electrification transition
- Permanent magnets are needed in the installation of wind turbines with the UK leading on innovation to develop alternatives
- Components needed often must be imported with limited upstream visibility
- Design of UK financing and contracts for power generation may limit turbines’ useful life
- Input materials for photovoltaics dependent on Xinjiang
- Wide use of solar panels creates urgent need for greater focus on ability and demand to deliver recycling capability
- A transition in the UK’s nuclear power plants may shift the risks associated with the UK’s graphite dependency
The work of the Task & Finish Group identified that a key area of strength for the UK is in the midstream of CRM value chains, as well as the opportunity to increase material circularity. These are recognised as high value-add areas where the UK could have a competitive edge though its access to technology and finance.The full report and further detail on the sector-specific findings and recommendations are available online.