Saudi, UK to jointly develop critical minerals supply chains, increase availability

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Saudi Arabia and the UK intend to jointly develop critical minerals supply chains to support the global energy transition and increase the global supply as part of an agreement signed on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar al-Khorayef and the UK’s Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch signed the agreement.

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Minerals, including copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements, are vital for technological advancements in electric vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels.

“Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom share a common vision of ensuring the availability of minerals necessary for the energy transition while upholding high sustainability standards,” al-Khorayef was quoted as saying by the Saudi Press Agency.

Meanwhile, Badenoch said: “The agreement I have signed today with Saudi Arabia will strengthen our partnership on supply chain resilience and industrial cooperation- brilliant news for both our economies,” in the same report.

Al-Khorayef reportedly explained that the latest agreement was part of increasing cooperation in relations between the two countries in the industrial and mining sectors, which they hope will support the joint global efforts for a green future.

According to SPA, the agreement will focus on various areas of cooperation:

  • Developing a shared understanding of critical minerals strategies and resilience of supply chains.
  • Encouraging the replacement and recycling of critical minerals.
  • Establishing a unified vision for the mineral industry that aligns with global environmental standards and promotes social contribution, with coordination in multilateral forums supporting the flow of essential minerals.
  • Engaging the private sector to identify new critical mineral supply chains and exploring joint investment opportunities encouraging partnerships between companies and industry to increase supply chains.
  • Identifying collaborative research opportunities on clean mineral production techniques, resource efficiency, recycling, and other relevant technologies facilitating knowledge exchange on projects, skills development, and practical initiatives relating to critical minerals.

The signing of the agreement comes after the British government, in January 2023, said it had agreed to deepen its collaboration with Saudi Arabia on diversifying sources of critical minerals.

Britain’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department said the partnership could see Saudi investment in the UK’s manufacturing and mining finance sectors and new opportunities for UK mining firms to do business in Saudi Arabia.

Later that month, al-Khorayef highlighted the importance of international collaboration in achieving the global goal of transitioning to green energy during a panel discussion on the sidelines of the Future Minerals Forum in Riyadh.

He emphasized the UK’s crucial role in developing reliable supply chains for the Kingdom and the entire region.

The shift towards a low-carbon economy requires a large supply of minerals. For instance, lithium supply will need to increase by approximately 700 percent, nickel production by around 100 percent, and copper production by roughly 50 percent until 2030 compared to the decade ending 2020 to match the 1.5°C-degree pathway, SPA reported.

With Reuters

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