The release of the British Geological Survey’s “Risk List” – a supply risk index for critical minerals – helped kick off the mineral resource security debate in the United Kingdom a year and a half ago. This past week, this debate culminated in the launch of a new research funding program focused on the “Security of Supply of Mineral Resources.”
The program will be conducted under the auspices of the British Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), where it will fall under the council’s Sustainable Use of Natural Resources (SUNR) strategic theme. With an allocated budget of £7 million, the program will focus on “those elements that are required for the production and more efficient use of energy – defined as E-tech elements,” and will pursue “two high-level goals:”
1. To quantify the processes mobilising and concentrating mineral associations supporting environmental technologies and;
2. To predict the environmental impact of low -carbon extraction/recovery of strategic minerals.
Meanwhile, in the United States, we saw first signs of an increased focus on mineral resource security on the part of the Obama Administration earlier this year. With the rest of the world – like Great Britain – kicking their efforts into high gear, this is not only a welcome, but also a very timely development which will hopefully lead to the formulation of a comprehensive strategy. Our domestic manufacturers will certainly keep their fingers crossed.