Friday, 23 October 2020

The Critical Minerals Association: an important new partner for MEI Conferences

MEI is proud to announce that the Critical Minerals Association (CMA) will be an Associate Partner for MEI Conferences in 2021.

Now, more than ever, the UK needs to secure supply chains and withstand fluctuations in international politics.  There is an urgency to identify new sources of critical minerals, invest in extraction technologies and increase Government support for recycling initiatives. The CMA provides a unique platform for companies and individuals to come together and share key insights with the UK Government, enabling industry to generate a collective voice when outlining concerns and future recommendations, providing a direct line of communication between industry and Government. 

Recognising the importance of high standards across the sector, the CMA develops peer-to-peer sharing of best practice and sets recognised standards for companies and consumers. Its aim is to improve societal perceptions of the sector by showcasing the economic and social benefits of critical mineral companies and highlighting the industry’s importance for the UK National Economy.

We at MEI look forward to working closely with CMA towards improving the perception of the importance of the minerals industry to society. My first role was to be interviewed by the CMA's  Perception of Mining Working Group Co-Chair, Ben Lepley, of SRK Consulting, UK (CMA website), where it was stressed that without mining we would not have a society as we know it!

In conversation with Ben Lepley



  1. So happy to read CMA joining you--most impressed with the "wholistic view" you articulated. -
    Yes, time has come to look at our profession from a new prism--I am sure a day will come when we recover each a grain of mineral, may it be major/minor/precious etc with full use of what we presently call "tailings".
    It looks planners and industry are ready and the challenge is to "academicians/engineers" starting from exploration to exploitation--the canvas is so big. exciting and challenging.
    I like the way your Blog ends with "where it was stressed that without mining we would not have a society as we know it!

  2. The demand for critical minerals will increase infuture and this partnership for MEI will help for associated memebers across globe

  3. I am not sure which minerals come under the’Critical’ umbrella. Which ones are they?
    Best wishes, Richard
    Richard Edwards, Malvern, UK

    1. Good question Richard. Critical minerals, or metals, are usually defined as those whose supply is risky due to geopolitical reasons. For instance 60% of the world's cobalt, essential for lithium-ion batteries, comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while China accounts for 80 per cent of the global mined supply of rare earths and an even higher share of the manufacturing of powerful rare earth magnets, essential for wind turbines and other high-tech applications.

      But, as I said in the interview, to me all metals are critical, as they are all from finite resources, and their supply will have to be considerably ramped up as we enter the 4th Industrial Revolution.

  4. While on this subject of minerals, I have a question to ask due to my curiosity(maybe ignorance) on how these terms "rare/precious.critical etc" came about. Did they know from those old days of Periodic Tables (salute them) that huge deposits of these minerals will never be found? Many times I wonder and so this question though you said that all are important.

    1. It all boils down to supply and demand TC, as I am sure you are well aware. If a metal is of importance to society, and its supply is not meeting demand, for whatever reason, then we can class it as critical. That is why, as we eneter the 4th Industrial Revolution, the world of 5G, renewable energy and electric vehicles, the supply of many essential metals may not meet demand, so they can be regarded as critical.

      The rare earths are particularly critical, as China supplies most of the world's needs, and the processing of rare earths in Mongolia produces terrible environmental pollution, and the process is highly energy intensive, the energy mainly coming from fossil fuels. As I've said many times, wind turbines aren't as green as many people think.

      And rare earths are not even rare. They occur in much greater abundance than the base metals copper, lead and zinc, but they are spread thinly around the earth's crust, rather than in isolated, relatively high grade deposits.

      Regarding precious metals, one metal which we now take for granted, and was indeed a precious metal in the late 19th century, is aluminium, which was more precious than gold although it was well known that it had potential as a light, strong metal which would not corrode, due to its passive oxide layer. No one of sound mind would have predicted that aluminium would one day be a cheap metal in global use for common household utensils, the invention of the Bayer and Hall-Héroult processes allowing the economic mass processing of bauxite ores.

      It's also true that without the invention of froth flotation in the early 20th century, the common industrial metals copper, lead, zinc, nickel would all be classed as precious metals.

  5. Thank you Barry for giving such a detailed response-I thought I asked a stupid question.
    From the Blog and the discussions which followed (though limited) bring out critical aspects related to minerals which all of us are glossing over for years but never zeroed on "what is ailing mineral industry?".
    Let me put it in my way.
    1)Generally Society (including politicians and beauracrats) may not be able to understand and appreciate importance and "what to do", when it comes to minerals.
    2)I feel the metallurgists also did not get involved in educating the public on the importance of minerals ,though their profession depends on minerals.
    3)So called Schools of excellence who have programmes in business management,management(they should focus less on profits and more on resource(finite mineral resources) management and interact more with us.
    Development is dependent on minerals and if we do not have that, what would they manage?
    4)More synergy between us and all other disciplines (like space research) is needed to have a bright and sustainable development.
    5)I fully agree that all minerals are critical.
    6)NOW, IT BOILS DOWN TO NOT PAYING ENOUGH ATTENTION (and less spending) ON EXPLORATION--when we mineral people talk about exploration, all the users of mineral ask "who Pays?-we may find and may not find mineral occurance and so why spend on unknown returns on spending"
    Just as each Govt worries abour public and their health and well being, Society has to be educated and enough budjet has to be provided, as a mandate, for exploration of finite mineral resources.
    7)You mentioned Congo and Chaina for monopolly on ceratain minerals--I am curious to know what are the rock types of these deposits and aren't there such types in other countries.
    My apologies to all Readers on the above if I am off the beam; but definitely emotional when it comes to minerals.

  6. I think most of critical minerals especially High Rare Earth Elwments HREE are hosted in clay and they use simple ion adosorption to extract .Infact One report published in "Nature" journal suggest that South China Sea has huge HREE hosted in Clay.
    As far as other countries are concernef 90 percent are hosted in Carbonatities, Nephyline Syenites and COLTAN minerals in Pegmatities of LCT and NYT.exception are heavy minerals from.beach sands. Now time has come to look other rocktypes and tabulate minerals hosting these critical minerals.It will be good idea to have International Critical Mineral Association like IMA or be a part of IMA which help Researchers, technocrats, metallurgists, policy makers, politicians to think sensibly without geopolitical wars in future.
    Infact future wars would be for minerals not for oil.

  7. It is really excellent response , Dr.Raju--I know of your excellent work in geology and related geophysics,,though never met you personally. Only recently you started interacting on this Blog which I respect and learn a lot from.
    We need more like you from the allied Depts of Mineral Engineering interacting on this Blog;pl encourage your colleagues.

  8. Sure Prof, The subjects like Geology,mineralogy, metallurgy, geo-metallurgy are interdisciplinary and infact worlds big deposits like Olympic Dam is successfully extracting Cu,Gold,Uranium and several other critical minerals so successfully.

  9. Wonderful discussion and so educative. My company is working on recovering minerals from erstwhile wastes with the sole objective of marginal recovery of minerals cost effectively. We believe this will address metal or mineral shortages to some extent. There is need to look at all minerals in a deposit rather than focusing on one only as is the case in most mines in India.


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