Last reviewed 26 July 2022

The Government has published its long-awaited strategy to secure critical minerals supply and reduce dependence on volatile overseas imports.

The new critical minerals strategy is designed to improve the resilience of critical minerals supply chains by accelerating growth of the UK’s domestic capabilities and collaborating with international partners to reduce market vulnerability.

“With rising geopolitical threats, Britain needs to move quickly to secure the rare earth minerals necessary to supply our future industries,” business minister Kwasi Kwarteng said in a statement, citing China’s dominance in the market and the disruption of supply chains caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Most of these minerals are sourced from just a handful of countries, leaving Britain vulnerable to market shocks. We need to develop and strengthen our own supply chains to protect our national security into the future.”

Critical minerals are essential in almost all aspects of business life — from mobile phones and computers to electronic meters, batteries and catalytic converters. All renewable technologies depend on critical minerals and world markets are expected to quadruple by 2040 to support low carbon energy technologies. Rising demand for lithium has caused prices to increase nearly 400% year-on-year, as of May 2022.

The UK has pockets of critical mineral resources stretching from the Scottish Highlands down to Cornwall where recent discoveries of commercial grade lithium have been made. Part of the Government’s plan is to maximise what the UK can produce domestically by collating geoscientific data for further fieldwork, including possible extraction of minerals from coastal waters.

Other plans include accelerating a circular economy of critical minerals in the UK by increasing recovery, reuse and recycling rates and improving resource efficiency to make better use of materials already in circulation and alleviate pressure on primary supplies.

The Government sees its critical minerals strategy as an opportunity to generate new jobs and growth and continued investment in the manufacturing of clean technologies across the UK.

Full details of the UK’s critical minerals strategy are available here.