Strengthening the Supply of Critical Materials: UK Government Provides Funding for Innovative Research

UK Government

(Credit: Canva Pro)

by | Feb 28, 2023

UK Government

(Credit: Canva Pro)

The UK government has allocated $18 million of funding towards cutting-edge research that aims to strengthen the supply of critical materials, such as rare earth elements. They play a vital role in the economy by being integral to the creation of essential components in a wide range of goods. However, their supply chains are complex, and markets are volatile, with most critical minerals sourced from only a few countries. As a result, the UK’s jobs and industries are susceptible to market shocks and geopolitical events.

The CLIMATES (CLImates, Materials and Technologies for Resource Efficient Societies), is a multi-award program, run by UK Innovate. It helps fund researchers across the country to develop new technology that improves the recycling of rare earth materials. The initiators hope that this will support innovations in recycling rare earth elements, research, and development of new technologies, engagement with international partners to collect waste products containing valuable material, as well as activities aimed at identifying future skills needed by the sector.

The program is also working to attract more private investment for projects that will help develop resilient supply chains for these critical resources.

“Rare earth elements underpin so much of what makes everyday life and work possible, from the cars we drive to the phones we use. It is essential that, in a rapidly changing world, we do all we can to ensure resilient supplies of these and other critical minerals,” said Nusrat Ghani, British Minister of State at the Department for Business and Trade, adding: “The impact of Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine on energy prices has been a timely reminder of how important supply chains are for all parts of our economy. That’s why we are laser-focused on securing robust supply chains, for the growing, green industries that will deliver jobs and prosperity across the UK in the decades to come.”

In July 2022, Pensana launched the UK’s first-ever magnet materials refinery in East Yorkshire. This $174 million facility will secure hundreds of jobs and become a crucial part of the UK’s electric vehicle supply chain. Similarly, Green Lithium announced in November 2022 that it would construct the first large-scale lithium refinery outside of Asia in Teeside. Both investments are backed by the government’s Automotive Transformation Fund.

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