UK and Saudi Arabia pledge to deliver closer co-operation on critical minerals

F.P. Report

LONDON: Business Secretary Grant Shapps has today (Wednesday 11 January) agreed to deepen the UK’s collaboration with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on critical minerals, putting the government’s ambitions for building more resilient critical minerals supply chains into clear action.

The partnership paves the way for the UK and Saudi Arabia to work together on diversifying sources of critical minerals, both through Saudi investment in the UK’s world leading manufacturing and mining finance sectors as well as new opportunities for UK mining firms to do business in Saudi Arabia. This is also important in ensuring the UK’s critical mineral supply chains are not overly reliant on any one country, with supplies currently dominated by China.

The two countries will work collectively on specific actions we can take, to bring our respective strengths together. We will be formalising this relationship in the coming months.

Critical minerals such as graphite and lithium are vital to the economy and used in products ranging from laptops to aircraft. However, global markets are volatile and supply chains are at risk, leaving UK jobs and industries vulnerable to market shocks and geopolitical events.

Agreements like today’s will make the UK’s supply chains more resilient, helping provide supplies to key green industries which will deliver growth and jobs now and for future generations. Saudi Arabia has one of the greatest untapped sources of critical minerals in the global market, worth circa US$1.3 trillion.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps said:

Critical minerals underpin the things that make everyday life and work possible, from our cars to our phones. It is essential that we do all we can to ensure resilient supplies of these important resources.

The impact of Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine on energy prices has shown us all how important international supply chains are to our economy, and why we can never be too reliant on any one nation. That’s why it’s so key that we work with partners like Saudi Arabia to make sure our supply chains are diverse and robust, supporting jobs and prosperity across the UK in the decades to come.

The UK and Saudi Arabia will explore working together to open up new sources of critical mineral supply. That could mean promoting the UK’s world leading manufacturing and mining finance sectors for Saudi investment, or exploring new opportunities for UK mining firms to do business in Saudi Arabia.

The partnership will also build on the importance of rigorous transparency and environmental standards, to minimise the risks to businesses and encourage investment. Clear, internationally-agreed rules are essential to building dependable supply chains.

The UK is determined to use relationships such as this one to build on efforts already underway to boost standards worldwide, from the UK’s leading role in international forums, to work through the City of London – the global centre of metals trading – to improve market governance.

The pledge builds on objectives already set out in the Critical Minerals Strategy, published in July 2022, to work at home, abroad, and through the markets to develop more robust supplies of these minerals. It is hoped today’s announcement will be the first of many such partnerships between the UK and other countries, because it is not possible for the UK to meet all of its critical mineral needs domestically.

The Business Secretary made the agreement while in Riyadh for the Future Minerals Forum, a further sign of the importance the government is placing on strengthening critical mineral supply chains for the UK. The UK will work closely with international partners to build the diverse and robust supply chains needed to support the global economy in the coming decades.