UK’s new Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre: Building a resilient economy

On 4 July 2022, the UK government‘s Industry Minister, Lee Rowley, announced the official launch of the UK’s first-ever Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre.

The Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre (CMIC) intends to both collect and analyse information on the supply of critical minerals, which are vital to the UK’s economic success and national security.

Rowley outlined the intentions of the UK Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre:

  • The CMIC is expected to boost UK resilience and growth by providing up-to-date data analysis on the supply of critical minerals;
  • The CMIC will allow experts to keep track of critical minerals like cobalt, lithium, and graphite, which are essential to manufacturing products, such as electric vehicle batteries, wind turbines, and fighter jets; and
  • The CMIC will be operated by the British Geological Survey (BGS) in Nottingham, helping the UK to stay ahead of an increasingly competitive global market for critical minerals.

Strengthening the UK’s critical mineral supply chain

Based in Nottingham, the CMIC will improve the strength of the UK’s critical mineral supply chain by providing policymakers with up-to-date data and analysis on supply, demand, and market dynamics. This data will then be utilised to develop evidence-based policies that are aimed at developing more robust critical mineral supply chains in the UK.

Critical minerals are crucial for manufacturing products that are necessary for green technologies, national security, and daily life. This includes electric vehicles, wind turbines, mobile phones, and fighter jets. With the production of some critical minerals expected to increase by nearly 500% by 2050, it is critical the UK takes steps to secure a resilient and sustainable supply chain. This is essential for some of the industries, and it is expected to drive growth and create jobs across the UK for decades to come, from EV manufacturers in the West Midlands to Yorkshire’s Energy Coast.

“Critical minerals are so important to every aspect of our daily lives, whether it is the phones we use, the cars we drive, or the batteries in our laptops. As the world shifts towards new green technologies, supply chains will become more competitive. That is why we are harnessing the British Geological Survey’s vast experience in geoscience, to ensure better access to these crucial resources, and support the delivery of our forthcoming critical minerals strategy,” explained Lee Rowley, Minister for Industry.

Providing insights into the UK’s critical minerals

The programme will be delivered by the BGS, due to its incomparable capability and access to data. This will provide the UK government with insights into the supply, demand, and market dynamics of critical minerals. Additionally, some of the CMIC’s data and insights may be provided to businesses, where it is appropriate and of benefit to them.

“We are extremely pleased to host the new UK Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre. The British Geological Survey has a strong reputation for its work on mineral and metal supply and is internationally known for its expertise in critical raw materials,” concluded Dr Karen Hanghøj, BGS Director.

“Through the new Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre, we are looking forward to building on this track record to provide the UK industry and policymakers with high-quality information and advice.”

The BGS will merge its own resources, expertise, and data with those of third parties to provide up-to-date analysis on the supply, demand, and flow of critical mineral supplies around the world. The CMIC will also provide policymakers with advice on emerging issues, including geopolitical, ethical, or environmental risks associated with critical mineral sources.

As its first major milestone, the CMIC has published a study into the future UK demand for, and supply security of, critical minerals required for electric vehicle batteries. As emphasised by major government investments in gigafactories with Britishvolt and Envision AESC, the UK is one of the best locations in the world for automotive manufacturing, and this study will help policymakers to improve the durability of our battery metal supply chains.

The government will publish a UK Critical Minerals Strategy later in 2022, setting out its approach to bolstering the resilience of our critical mineral supply chains.

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