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Critical Metals - Science for a Secure Supply

Funder: UK Research and InnovationProject code: NE/J006475/1
Funded under: NERC Funder Contribution: 98,494 GBP

Critical Metals - Science for a Secure Supply

Description

Project summary There are growing global concerns over the long-term availability of secure supplies of metals needed by society. Metal consumption is increasing as a result of burgeoning global population and the requirements of new and/or environmental technologies. Of particular concern are the 'critical metals', so called because of their growing economic importance and high risk of supply shortage. Most 'critical' to the UK and EU are antimony, beryllium, cobalt, gallium, germanium, indium, lithium, magnesium, niobium, platinum group metals, rare earth elements, rhenium, tantalum and tungsten. Several countries (e.g. USA, Japan, South Korea) are developing strategies to address these risks, based on diversifying the global supply chain, improving knowledge of and access to indigenous resources, and boosting substitution and recycling. In the UK the House of Commons Committee on Science and Technology has highlighted that accurate and reliable information on the potential scarcity of metals should be made available to help businesses plan to mitigate these risks. This project aims to provide an authoritative, accessible and sustainable knowledge base on critical metals to underpin economic growth, contribute to green technology innovation, reduce resource risks to business, improve national security and enhance the competitiveness of UK PLC. It will promote effective knowledge exchange between industry (extractive, processing and manufacturing), the investment community, government, regulators, academia and other stakeholder groups on all aspects of the life cycle of critical metals to identify key issues relating to supply security and environmental limits. It will thus contribute to the development of coordinated national policies for the critical metals and identify the actions needed for their implementation including associated programmes of research. The project will involve: 1. Publication of a Critical Metals Handbook, to provide a unique, authoritative, one-stop source of information on diverse aspects of the critical metals, including geology, deposits, processing, applications, environmental issues, markets and future supply-demand scenarios. It will be written for the non-specialist by international experts. 2. Holding Critical Metals KE workshops, to promote dialogue among all stakeholder groups concerned with the critical metals supply chain. These will disseminate the core knowledge from the Handbook and will provide industry sectors that rely on critical metals, such as aerospace, clean energy and automotive, with the opportunity to identify key issues of concern. A synthesis report will identify the challenges for raw material supply over various timescales, the key areas in which breakthroughs are required and recommended action plans. 3. Development of new web pages for the non-specialist, to provide essential background information on critical metals and on the key issues related to their security of supply. The completed project will provide a foundation for the continuing provision of analysis and advice to users throughout the metals supply chain and for promoting ongoing dialogue with government. It will also facilitate the development of cross-sectoral linkages, bringing industry users into contact with specialist researchers from all parts of the supply chain, to contribute to the development of a coherent integrated critical metals strategy.

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