Met4Tech held our mid-year Project update Meeting and Sparks Sessions on 19th July 2022 both in person and on-line, generously hosted by our project partner Johnson Matthey in Reading. The researchers form each thematic area delivered concise updates in the morning session. The afternoon’s Sparks Session sparred several experts from the metals sector who challenged the participants to jointly investigate ‘Who Owns Metals?’.
This biannual gathering brought together the Met4Tech researchers and project partner organisations as well as the Independent Advisory Board members and colleagues from the other CE Centres in the NICER programme. The project updates highlighted the research progress and innovations as well as collaborations on new case studies, and plans for the User Groups. More details are available on request.
Our sparks session ‘provocateurs’ were invited to spark different perspectives and initiated a lively discussion on the technology metal value chains. The first panel of expert speakers suggested that we should ‘tear up the rule book with regards to mineral rights in exploration mining considerations’, and that ‘manufacturers don’t necessarily want to own metals due to the ebb and flow of markets’. We were encouraged to look into the ‘dark side of the moon’ in the circular economy and that we need to focus efforts on bringing theoretical concepts into the light of day.
The second panel of expert speakers contested product ownership and talked of service-based business models. There were passionate pleas for responsible sourcing from small scale mines that will remain a vital link in the value chain; and an eloquent explanation about the restraints on product and waste classification in existing UK regulation and how this currently impacts those responsible for material flows.
All these key aspects are under investigations as part of the Met4Tech research programme, and will feed into our new case studies and the overall circular economy Roadmap for technology metals in the UK.
The UKRI Circular Economy Centre for Technology Metals (Met4Tech) is exploring circular economy solutions for the material flows and overall value chains of technology metals in order to provide environmental sustainability benefits and promote the UK economy. These strategic and critical metals (REEs, Li, Co, PGMs, Sn, W, etc.) are needed for most of the key applications and technologies required for clean transport, communications, and the energy transition towards Net Zero carbon. Please also see the UK’s new Strategy for Critical Minerals.