Trends in UK production of minerals : UK Minerals Forum Working Group 2013-14 : future mineral scenarios for the UK

Highley, David; Mankelow, Joseph. 2014 Trends in UK production of minerals : UK Minerals Forum Working Group 2013-14 : future mineral scenarios for the UK. UK Minerals Forum, 37pp. (Unpublished)

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Adequate and steady supplies of minerals are essential for the nation’s economic and social development. For its small size Britain is relatively well endowed with mineral resources, and their extraction and use have played an important role in the historic development of the UK economy. The UK continues to have an economically significant minerals industry, with oil and gas, and construction minerals being the dominant sectors in terms of tonnage and value. Although UK coal production is much diminished, coal still makes a significant contribution to our energy mix. A number of industrial minerals support downstream industries and some, important export markets. As in the past, future demand for, and thus production and import of, minerals is continually evolving. It will continue to be strongly influenced by a range of economic, political, technical, social and environmental factors. This report takes a backward look at Britain’s mineral production. The last three decades or so have witnessed major changes in the fortunes of each of Britain’s extractive sectors – oil and gas, coal, construction and industrial minerals, and metals. Whilst the future cannot be simply extrapolated from the past, it is useful to record and analyse some of these trends to see if they identify any drivers for the future. This report presents trends in the production of a wide range of minerals, including for the fossil fuels – coal, natural gas and oil; construction minerals – aggregates, brick clay, cement-making raw materials and gypsum; and a number of industrial minerals – kaolin, ball clay, silica sand, potash, industrial carbonates, fluorspar and barytes. There have been substantial changes in the UK minerals industry over the last 30+ years. Overall the trend has been one of decline, both in terms of minerals production and consumption. The UK is also becoming increasingly dependent on imports of minerals and minerals-based products. This not only places increasing demands on the environments of our trading partners but potentially makes us more vulnerable to supply disruptions through growing global demand for minerals driven by expanding populations and rising incomes and, in some regions, geopolitical instability. This means that there will be a continuing demand for the products of the UK’s extractive industries for the foreseeable future. The extent to which domestic supply is able to meet that demand will ultimately depend on the wide range of relevant policies, both fiscal and regulatory, adopted by future governments, and also the political and environmental acceptability of continued minerals extraction. Britain’s resource security and its longer term access to mineral supplies, both from domestic and overseas sources, will remain a key issue for the economy and politicians for many years to come.

Item Type: Publication - Report
Funders/Sponsors: UK Minerals Forum
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This report can also be downloaded for free from URL above
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
General > Science Policy
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Date made live: 26 Nov 2014 13:52 +0 (UTC)

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