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UK launches critical minerals data centre

The Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre (CMIC) will be based in Nottingham. (Stock image.)

The British government announced on Monday the creation of a centre to gather data and analyse information on the supply of critical minerals such as cobalt, lithium and graphite, which are key for electric vehicle (EV) batteries and wind turbines.

The Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre (CMIC), to be run by the British Geological Survey, will use the data to help to find ways to source minerals needed for green technologies, considered essential to national security and daily life.

“As the world shifts towards new green technologies, supply chains will become more competitive,” minister for industry Lee Rowley said in a statement.

With the production of some critical minerals expected to increase by nearly 500% by 2050, the UK is boosting efforts to secure a resilient and sustainable supply chain.

“This is vital for some of the industries that it’s hoped will drive growth and create jobs across the UK for decades to come, from EV manufacturers in the West Midlands, to Yorkshire’s Energy Coast,” the statement reads.

The centre builds on work by the Critical Minerals Expert Group, set up by the government last year, to harness the UK’s expert knowledge on critical minerals.

Global vehicle makers are preparing to launch hundreds of new electric car models over the next few years, responding to pressure from regulators who continue to tighten restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

The European auto industry, in particular, is rushing to meet tighter carbon-dioxide emissions targets that take effect next year or face billions of dollars in fines if they exceed them.

The UK has been taking steps to consolidate an EV industry as local carmakers have three years to source local electric car batteries, following the Brexit free trade deal. Under the agreement, inked in 2020, batteries will at first be allowed to have up to 70% of materials from countries outside the EU or the UK.

From 2024 onwards, however, that requirement will tighten to 50%. Glencore and start-up Britishvolt are building a plant to recycle lithium-ion batteries in the UK, as a way to boost local supply of the metal.