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UK’s first magnet refinery given huge financial boost as first ever strategy for supply of critical minerals published

A multi-million-pound investment in the UK’s first-ever magnet materials refiner was launched – securing hundreds of jobs in East Yorkshire, and a strong foothold for Britain in the international market.

This comes as the government publishes the UK’s first ever ‘Critical Minerals Strategy’ to bolster the resilience of supply chains and seize on the economic opportunities of growing industries, such as electric vehicle manufacturing and offshore wind.

Speaking at the official opening of Pensana’s £145 million Saltend site, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng confirmed that the facility will be developed to process the critical minerals used in magnets, a key component for manufacturing electric vehicles (EVs). Pensana expects operations to begin at the end of 2023.

The facility is backed by the government’s Automotive Transformation Fund, an £850 million programme to electrify Britain’s automotive supply chain and protect our nation’s competitiveness in the global market. It will make the UK one of the only places in Europe to have the facility to refine the rare earth oxides used in the creation of magnets, and will also lead to the creation of 126 new and skilled jobs in the area.

As set out in the new ‘Critical Minerals Strategy’, minerals such as graphite, lithium and silicon are vital to the economy, as they are key components of products ranging from laptops to aircraft. But supply chains are complex and markets are volatile, with most critical minerals sourced from just a handful of countries, particularly China. This leaves UK jobs and industries reliant on minerals vulnerable to market shocks and geopolitical events. Ensuring UK firms have a resilient and sustainable access to critical minerals will be vital for the growth of future industries such as EV manufacturing, which will support jobs across the UK for decades to come, and national security.

The strategy sets out plans to develop more robust supplies of these minerals for the vast range of industries reliant on them, protecting Britain’s interests into the future. The measures include bolstering domestic production, building the UK’s skills base, carrying out world leading research and development, and enhancing reuse and recycling. It also notes the importance of working with international partners and like-minded allies to build trading relationships and diversify supply chains.

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