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UK government to set up Critical Minerals Agency

Mining industry / Europe

The UK government is beginning to recognize the risks of disruption to the critical minerals supply chain.

UK government to set up Critical Minerals Agency

The UK government has decided to create a Critical Minerals Agency, a Country Critical Minerals Association, and an adviser to the government on its Critical Minerals Strategy.

The government "will establish a dedicated critical minerals unit to act as the government's sole contact point with the critical minerals sector ... and support the strategy's goals and sector needs," said CMA co-founder Kirsty Benham. with reference to the government.

The government's Critical Minerals Unit should be an important first step in supporting mining, processing and manufacturing companies to overcome the complexities of Whitehall's cross-agency priorities, as well as decision makers in local, regional and autonomous administrations, and can provide a clearing house for government departments to come together to achieve a common goal, such as permits, Benham commented in a CMA newsletter.

Benham noted that a single point of contact for critical minerals policy could help avoid situations like the one that recently occurred in the European Union, where lithium was listed as an essential raw material, but shortly thereafter classified lithium chemicals substances as dangerous.

Lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, rare earths and graphite are commonly among the metals considered critical, although the list varies by country.

Some minerals that are considered critical on other lists around the world are not on the UK critical minerals list, such as copper and zinc, while the key battery metals nickel and manganese are only on the UK 'watch list'.

The government also plans to offer training in the critical minerals sector, the association says in a publication.

In July, the government developed the UK's first mining strategy. However, more action is still urgently needed to keep the UK on track to meet its decarbonisation goals, which require metals and minerals, according to the CMA bulletin.

"There is always a risk that the UK will fall behind in the global race to secure responsible sourcing of critical minerals," Benham said in a CMA newsletter. “It is encouraging that the UK government is beginning to recognize the risks of disruptions to the critical minerals supply chain, but the release of the strategy does not mean the country can rest easy – effective implementation of the critical minerals strategy remains an urgent priority.”

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