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Metals and Decarbonisation Science Briefing Paper

Hot metal being poured. © Getty images.

Metals and decarbonisation: a geological perspective

Metals are fundamental to human existence. They perform a myriad of functions, including enabling the technologies needed to decarbonise the global economy such as low carbon energy generation and zero emission transport. However, humans use metals in vast quantities and their extraction and processing have profound environmental consequences, particularly in the emission of greenhouse gases. The Metals and Decarbonisation Science Briefing Paper summarises the current paradigm for global metal supply and demand, and sets out some of the barriers and opportunities that this presents to the transition to a more sustainable, low carbon economy.

Mineral Planning Factsheet Construction aggregates updated

Gravel aggregate. BGS©NERC

BGS publishes a series of Mineral Planning Factsheets that cover economically important minerals that are extracted in Britain. Individual factsheets are periodically updated to provide an up-to-date overview of the supply of a specific mineral. They are primarily intended to inform the land-use planning process but will be of much wider interest. This is the latest update for the construction aggregates factsheet and reflects the many recent changes in the structure of the industry, the latest amendments in a wide range of aggregates-related planning issues, plus updated statistics on all aspects of aggregates supply.

United Kingdom Minerals Yearbook 2018

Sand and gravel extraction. BGS©NERC

This annual publication by the British Geological Survey provides comprehensive statistical data on minerals production, consumption and trade to 2017. It is of value to all those interested in the many facets of Britain's minerals industry and its contribution to the national economy.

World Mineral Production 2013-2017

World Mineral Production 2013-2017. BGS©NERC

Welcome to the latest edition of World Mineral Production, an annual publication from the British Geological Survey (BGS). This volume contains mineral production statistics for the five year period from 2013 to 2017, for more than 70 mineral commodities, by country worldwide. Additional tables containing European production of aggregates and cement are included as an Appendix.

It is the latest publication from the World Mineral Statistics dataset which began in 1913. The statistics from this dataset are available in the following formats:

  • Annual publication of "World Mineral Production" and its predecessors, which can be downloaded in pdf from our World Archive
  • MS Excel for years from 1970 via our data download tool
  • Selected editions are available to purchase in hard copy from the BGS online shop
  • One off reports are available for download in pdf from our World Statistics page.

Raw materials for a low carbon future

Download Briefing Note- Battery raw materials. BGS©NERC

Batteries and fuel cells are enabling technologies for low emission vehicles and their adoption is forecast to grow exponentially in the coming years. Even though dependency on fossil fuels will be reduced, raw materials, in particular metals, will be needed in greater amounts for the manufacture of battery packs, fuel cells, electric vehicles and hydrogen-powered vehicles. Cobalt, lithium, graphite, nickel, manganese, platinum group metals, copper, rare earth elements and many more will be required to enable this transition.

The Briefing note on raw materials for batteries in electric vehicles presents some of the key issues associated with the demand and supply of key commodities, such as cobalt, lithium and nickel, as well as a discussion of potential mitigation actions.

Download Briefing Note- Battery raw materials

More information

Secrets in the Stone: The work of the BGS Building Stones team

Paul Everett from the British Geological Survey (BGS) building stones teams describes their work in helping to conserve the built heritage of the UK.

Mineral profile – Lithium

Download Minerals profile - Lithium. BGS©NERC

A new addition to the series of mineral profiles has been released. This series presents essential background information on individual mineral commodities for the non-specialist user. They are not intended to be highly technical but contain sufficient detail to enable the reader to gain a broad understanding of the particular mineral described.

Each profile summarises:

  • the nature and geological occurrence of deposits
  • extraction and processing methods
  • specifications and uses
  • world production, trade and prices
  • the situation relating to the United Kingdom

This new addition relates to lithium, a mineral that most of us are aware of due to its use in lithium-ion batteries in our mobile phones and tablets. Lithium is also topical at the moment due to the increasing availability of electric cars, which all need batteries containing lithium. However, lithium has numerous other uses too; it is used in ceramics and glass, lubricating greases, air treatment, pharmaceuticals and optics, for example. Lithium is also unusual in that it comes from two very different sources: hard rock mining and the extraction of brine from beneath salt pans. The world's supply is dominated by Chile (brine) and Australia (hard rock) with just six other countries producing lithium in 2015. Download the profile here to read more.

European Mineral Statistics 2010-2014

Download European Mineral Statistics 2010-2014

This is the latest edition in the European Mineral Statistics series and provides essential information for the majority of economically important metals and minerals for 36 European Countries including European Union members, candidates and associates. It includes five year tables of production, exports and imports statistics arranged in two sections: by individual country; and by commodity with bullet points on salient features and graphics. It provides the essential background intelligence for any European minerals-related activities.

Risk List 2015

Figure 1. The chart shows the number of times a country is the leading global producer of an element or element group of economic value. Source: BGS World Mineral Statistics. BGS©NERC

The Risk List, first published by the British Geological Survey in 2011, provides a quick indication of the relative risk to the supply of elements or element groups which we need to maintain our economy and lifestyle. This 2015 update shows that China is still the leading producer of a large number of mineral commodities, it also indicates that the minor metals (e.g. REE, Sb, Bi, Ge) continue to have the greatest potential risk of supply disruption.

Mineral Planning Factsheet: Metals

Mineral Planning Factsheet: Metals. BGS©NERC

BGS has produced a series of Mineral Planning Factsheets that cover economically important minerals that are extracted in Britain. Individual factsheets are periodically updated to provide an up-to-date overview of the supply of a specific mineral. They are primarily intended to inform the land-use planning process but will be of much wider interest. The factsheet on Metals has been updated to reflect the recent revival of exploration in Britain, the opening of a major new tungsten mine in Devon and concerns over the long term availability of secure supplies of metals required by UK industry.

Survey of Surface Mined Coal 2014

Surface coal mine, BGS©NERC

The results of the Survey of Surface Mined Coal for 2014 are now available. Data are presented on saleable production, permitted reserves and details of sites granted and refused planning permission during 2014. This survey, previously known as 'the Opencast Coal Survey', been renamed to 'Survey of Surface Mined Coal' to better reflect modern methods used to extract shallow coal and align with terminology used by the Coal Authority and the coal extraction industry. The change came into effect for presentation of 2014 data.