UK and Canada forge ties to strengthen critical minerals supplies

Article by Adam Duckett

Canada mines and smelts a wealth of natural resources that are critical to green technology, energy, and fertiliser production

THE UK and Canada have agreed to cooperate on critical minerals including research to bolster the security of the supply of materials crucial to green technologies.

The agreement includes promoting skill sharing and research and development between the two country’s industries and universities; boosting environmental, social and governance standards across the critical minerals supply chains between the two countries; and a goal to build new connections in upstream and midstream supply chains, extending downstream to reuse and recycling.

Canada has a wealth of natural resources and is a mining powerhouse. It mines, smelts and refines some 21 critical minerals including the rare earth elements needed for wind turbines and electric car motors, and vanadium for long duration flow batteries.

The International Energy Agency estimates that the mineral demand needed for clean energy technologies will increase fourfold by 2040 compared to 2020. Last year, the UK established a Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre. In its first report, it warned that of 26 critical minerals, 18 have high supply disruption risks that leave the UK economically vulnerable. It also noted that China dominates the supply of many crucial elements including 90% of the world’s gallium, 78% of rare earths, and 79% of silicon.

The deal was signed earlier this week in Canada by the country’s natural resources minister Jonathan Wilkinson and UK business and trade minister Nusrat Ghani.

Wilkinson said: “By collaborating on the development of the critical mineral supply chains that we need to achieve our net-zero future, we can reinforce global energy security, advance the fight against climate change and ensure significant economic opportunity and support good jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Ghani said: Every single one of us depend on critical minerals to make the technology we use in our everyday lives. With a dash for minerals to meet national business needs, it is essential we work to build more resilient supply chains for critical minerals.

In January, the UK government launched a £15m (US$18m) CLIMATES fund for innovations in rare earths recycling. It also signed a deal with Saudi Arabia to collaborate on critical minerals.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

Recent Editions

Catch up on the latest news, views and jobs from The Chemical Engineer. Below are the four latest issues. View a wider selection of the archive from within the Magazine section of this site.