Responsible sourcing of critical metals
Applied Earth Science - Transactions of the Institutions of Mining and Metallurgy: Section B
Taylor & Francis
Reason for embargo
We use a wider range of specialist raw materials in our manufactured goods than ever before. Many of these are mined in just small quantities, of tens to thousands of tons per year, and that means that a small number of mines is sufficient to satisfy world demand. Annual rare earth production, for example, is two orders of magnitude lower than that of copper. Critical metals are defined as economically important but produced from just a few mines or countries such that they are particularly vulnerable to supply disruption,. These critical metals are essential for new ‘green’ and ‘digital’ technologies such as renewable energy, state-of-the-art medical technologies, computers and smartphones. Considerable effort has been made in the last few years to increase recycling, diversify supply or find alternatives to these critical metals. Less attention has been paid to responsible sourcing. Yet, it seems common sense that raw materials needed for environmentally-friendly technologies should come from environmentally-friendly - and ‘people friendly’ - sources. How easy is this to achieve for the critical metals? Is it a case of ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ or is responsible sourcing an important factor in determining critical metal supply chains? [...]
This work was supported by Natural Environment Research Council [NE/M011429/1].
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Maney Publishing via the DOI in this record.
Published online: 30 Mar 2017
Place of publication