Tonnes of rare earth elements, essential for technology such as electric vehicles, wind turbines and smart phones, could be recycled in future thanks to £15 million of Innovate UK funding. This will fund cutting edge research to strengthen the supply of critical materials.
Rare earths are vital to the economy but supply chains are complex and markets are volatile, with most critical minerals sourced from just a handful of countries.
This leaves UK jobs and industries vulnerable to market shocks and geopolitical events, which is why the government is working to help UK firms establish resilient and sustainable access to critical minerals.
CLIMATES: Circular Critical Materials Supply Chain programme
The £15 million funding will launch the CLIMATES programme, delivered by Innovate UK, to develop work on rare earths by researchers and businesses across the country.
This will support innovations in the recycling of rare earth elements, as well as research and development, engagement with international partners and activities to identify and support future skills needs.
Critical minerals strategy
Production of critical minerals of all kinds is expected to rise sharply, some as much as 500% by 2040.
Innovate UK is working with the government to ensure the UK secures a strong foothold in this growing market by supporting key investment in related industries.
The UK’s refreshed critical minerals strategy is expected to be published later in 2023.
Resilient, global supply chains
Mike Biddle, Executive Director for Net Zero at Innovate UK said:
Now is the time to build UK capability and a sustainable supply of rare earth elements, working with international partners.
The rising costs of energy has demonstrated the importance of resilient global supply chains.
Our CLIMATES programme will work with businesses, investors, and industry bodies to deliver a series of activities, from funding competitions to networking events and workshops, all designed to drive growth in the sector and build resilient supply chains to help us strengthen our economy and meet our environmental targets.
Nusrat Ghani, Minister of State at the Department for Business and Trade, said:
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.
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.
Top image: Credit: weisschr, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images