Written evidence from Critical Minerals Association (BEV0046)


  BEIS Select Committee Inquiry: Batteries for electric vehicle manufacturing


  1. The Critical Minerals Association (CMA) was founded in 2020 to provide a unified voice for the UK’s critical minerals sector, operating domestically and abroad.  The Association represents 33 companies across the upstream and midstream sectors of the supply chain. Our membership is diverse, and encompasses law firms, finance houses, ESG consultancies, and small exploration companies to some of the largest global mining companies. The Association operates through its member-led working groups to ensure its messages and activities are reflective of stakeholder priorities.
  2. The CMA is pleased to contribute to the batteries for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing inquiry given that the electrification of transport is an integral aspect of the net-zero transition. Vehicle manufacturers are responding to decarbonisation commitments on a global scale by investing in the production of new EVs, which will result in a corresponding decrease in internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle production.
  3. The domestic production of EV batteries is, therefore, vital to ensuring the UK Government meets its target to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.[1] Unfortunately, the complexity of this topic means that this evidence submission will, inevitably, not do the topic justice. However, the CMA remains ready and willing to provide further information as to how the UK can improve its domestic battery manufacturing capacity.  


  1. Is UK-based battery production necessary to support the manufacture of electric vehicles in the UK?

a)      The UK Government’s electric vehicle infrastructure strategy commits to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. It also aims for all new cars and vans to be zero emission at the tailpipe by 2035.[2] But the question remains of whether the new generations of EVs will be produced in the UK or whether the UK will gradually cease to be a manufacturer of vehicles and become reliant on European imports. The answer to this question depends on the UK remaining a viable location for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to locate the production of their vehicles. To ensure this, EV batteries will have to be manufactured in the UK.

b)     Strong synergies, such as greater flexibility for just-in-time production and more sustainable supply chains, can be achieved when vehicle producers and battery manufacturers are situated in close proximity to one another. Given the competition within global automotive production networks, these synergies will heavily affect the location of vehicle production. Consequently, if new gigafactories that are required to assemble EV batteries are built solely outside of the UK, there is a high risk that OEMs will also only invest in the production of future EV models in foreign plants.[3]

c)      Modelling conducted by the Faraday Battery Institute suggests that if the UK fails to establish large domestic battery production capabilities, domestic OEMs will wind down production of EVs and ICE vehicles, progressively eliminating the jobs of 170,000 individuals directly employed in the UK automotive industry and over 600,000 in associated businesses. The alternative is that the UK could strategically develop the supply chain for electric vehicles in the UK and subsequently retain a leading role in the regional production of both batteries and EVs. If this were to happen, the UK could expand its global market share by establishing itself as a European hub for battery and EV manufacturing.   

  1. What are the risks to the UK automotive industry of not establishing sufficient battery manufacturing capacity in the UK?

d)     The failure to establish sufficient domestic battery manufacturing capacity presents three main risks to the UK automotive industry. Firstly, OEMs will offshore their EV production capacity, which will reduce downstream industrial output and further shrink the UK’s already beleaguered automotive industry; a sentiment supported by the fact that despite 2022 being the industry’s best year for EV production, its total annual output was down 40.5 per cent from 2019 levels.[4]  The reduced attractiveness of the UK to OEMs is further demonstrated by BMW’s decision to manufacture the next battery model of its electric Mini in China rather than Oxford.[5]

e)      Secondly, the UK automotive industry will suffer a brain drain as talented engineers leave for employment in foreign countries that have been able to attract OEMs through investment in their domestic battery manufacturing capacity. Andrew Forrester, Founder of Fortescue, recently stated that part of his rationale for reviving the Britishvolt gigafactory project in Oxfordshire was to “stop the British brain drain and bring the smartest engineers back from Australia and North America”.[6] 

f)       It is also vital that, alongside cultivating new investors, the Government should communicate the attractiveness of the UK as a battery manufacturing location to investors by boosting domestic skills capability and committing to the long-term funding of battery research and innovation, particularly next-generation batteries. At present, UK battery manufacturing plants have the potential to reach a combined capacity of 57 gigawatt hours (GWh) by 2030, which is equivalent to only around 5 per cent of total European GWh capacity (compared to 34 per cent in Germany[7]).

g)     Thirdly, it is less likely that the UK automotive industry will meet the Government’s target for all cars and vans to be zero-emission at the tailpipe by 2035.[8] In order to supply the potential demand for batteries across private cars, commercial vehicles, heavy goods vehicles and buses, around 100 GWh of supply will be needed in the UK, which is equivalent to 5 gigafactories running at a capacity of 20 GWh per annum.[9] That is almost double the 57 GWh capacity the UK is set to achieve. 


  1. Does the UK have a sufficient supply of critical materials to support vehicle battery production?

h)     It is difficult to estimate future UK demand for the domestic manufacturing of EV batteries. One method is to estimate demand through prospective EV production forecasts. The National Grid estimates that UK EV production will be in the range of 1 to 2.5 million units annually by 2030, whereas the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) forecasts 1.5 million EVs in the same timeframe. An alternative approach, utilised by the UK Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre (CMIC), is to estimate future UK cathode and anode material demand for the domestic production of EV batteries based on production that is confirmed to take place in the UK.

i)       The CMIC devised two scenarios around the announced capacities of gigafactories in the UK which assumed a total output capacity of 135 GWh in 2030 (see Table 1.1). Based on the data from both scenarios, current domestic UK mineral production is unlikely to generate a sufficient supply to support EV battery production.




j)        Lithium minerals, for instance, are known to occur in the UK but remain rare and only found in specific localities. To date, lithium has not been extracted on a commercial scale in the UK, though a number of companies are exploring for lithium in Cornwall and Durham, including British Lithium, Cornish Lithium, and Weardale Lithium.[10] These companies should be supported to bring them into production faster.

k)       Historic mining has also shown the cobalt grade identified in the UK to be low.[11] Although cobalt can be found in high concentrations across several UK regions, in many cases the metal is a minor constituent of polymetallic ores and therefore usually a by-product of the extraction of another metal. This makes it very difficult to locate and open a mine specifically dedicated to cobalt extraction.[12]

l)        Given the future expected demand for battery materials, it is hard to establish whether even the quantities of critical minerals obtained through global supply chains will meet the UK’s needs. There is a significant degree of opacity and volatility across global critical mineral supply chains. Data are of variable quality, consistency and accessibility. There are also substantial difficulties in tracing the supply of critical minerals from the mine to the end product.[13] This is largely due to the fact that nickel, cobalt, and lithium are primarily concentrated in nations with unstable political climates: Chile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, and the Philippines.[14] China also has a virtual monopoly over the processing of these minerals. These monopolies do not bode well for the UK’s security of supply given that the global demand for lithium, cobalt, and nickel is projected to increase between 6 and 13 times by 2040.[15]

m)     One way of countering the aforementioned issue would be for the UK to focus on establishing a globally accepted set of ESG standards, utilising blockchain ledger systems and chemical analysis technology-- akin to those provided by Circulor and Source Certain International-- to ensure said standards are adhered to. Downstream agents could also guarantee ESG compliance through satellite tracking and in-person verification. By improving ESG standards, critical mineral supply chains will be more stable and transparent, ensuring the country has a sufficiently reliable supply of critical minerals to support domestic EV battery production. 

n)       The reality is that the global demand for critical minerals far outweighs their supply. China’s control of the critical minerals space has enabled them to control downstream production too. Of the 300 gigafactories due to be in operation by 2031, 226 will be in China-- representing 75% of all global facilities[16]

o)       Furthermore, China's top legislature passed a law in December 2020 on export control, allowing their government to ban exports of strategic materials and advanced technology to specific foreign companies. Given that the 14th Five-Year Plan aims to facilitate China’s transition from midstream dominance to downstream dominance, it is right to be wary over the UK’s dependence on a foreign entity with the same downstream goals. The UK must develop an alternative supply chain to ensure long-term security of supply.


  1. Do we have the skills in the workforce required for the production of batteries? If not, what needs to be done?


p)     Geoscientists and engineers are on the UK’s shortage occupation list[17]. There has been a simultaneous decline in the number of young people entering the mineral extraction, processing, and manufacturing industries, as well the places available for them to study. Despite the UK being home to several universities and institutions world-renowned for geoscience, engineering, processing and mining, a decline in student interest is reinforced by a lack of exposure to geoscience, engineering and metallurgy in schools. There was only one UK university training geoscience teachers (Keele Summer School) but they closed down in 2020 due to a lack of funding.

q)     Interest in metallurgy and manufacturing has waned in the UK at the worst possible time. While the popularity of environmental sciences has grown, there is declining student interest in earth sciences and engineering, despite the importance of understanding earth processes for climate mitigation and adaptation solutions. If there is a lack of investment in education and innovation in the UK, this knowledge gap will be filled by countries that are actively developing their talent. The UK will lose its competitive advantage. 

r)       To develop the expertise needed to support battery production and battery material supply chains in the UK, there needs to be a robust talent pipeline of individuals skilled in various engineering disciplines, including: mining, geotechnical, civil, electrical, mechanical and metallurgy. The UK needs to re-invigorate its waning soft power as a global centre for innovation and business by nurturing a new generation with a clear understanding of the connection between raw materials and the energy transition. The CMA recommends the UK Government enact the following four reforms.

s)      Firstly, the critical minerals, geoscience, engineering, and metallurgy (CGEM) communities need to be represented at Government industry groups working on the promotion of green jobs. This includes the Green Jobs Taskforce, the Cross-Cutting Delivery Group, and Trailblazers. Critical minerals and battery materials have not yet been represented at these forums.

t)       Secondly, the importance of CGEM should be incorporated in sustainability and climate change education initiatives and strategies, such as Net Zero Strategy programmes on teacher training and careers information. The UK Government needs to clearly explain the connection between critical minerals and climate action, while outlining its commitment to supporting responsible supply chains.

u)     Thirdly, the CGEM academic community must be represented in Department for Education (DfE) discussions and meetings relating to the development of the science curriculum. CGEM academics also need to be consulted regarding the development of green skills and supply chains.

v)     Fourthly, the UK Government must support existing CGEM education, research, and innovation initiatives through funding opportunities and integration with initiatives across departments. Specifically, the DfE, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESN), as well as the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT). This includes creating graduate programmes specialising in critical minerals and commercialising innovation, funding battery innovation projects, lowering financial barriers across university courses for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, providing bursaries to support the costs of fieldwork and equipment, and providing funding for the Geoscience Summer School to continue training geology teachers.  


  1. Conclusion:

w)    The CMA team thanks the BEIS Select Committee for the opportunity to submit evidence to this important inquiry. As the UK looks to transition to a net-zero economy, critical minerals and battery materials will become even more integral to the lives of every Briton; a stable and responsible supply of critical minerals will guarantee a stable and more sustainable future. It is therefore of the utmost importance that the UK Government take note of the committee’s recommendations following the conclusion of this inquiry.

x)     As stated at the outset, this is an expansive topic that has many multifaceted themes. It encompasses domestic and global mineral production, research and development, as well as the associated risks of the UK failing to develop its domestic battery manufacturing capacity. Due to time constraints, this submission is unable to delve into the minutiae of these topics, but the CMA is ready to provide further assistance upon request.


[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-electric-vehicle-infrastructure-strategy

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-electric-vehicle-infrastructure-strategy

[3] https://faraday.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2040_Gigafactory_Report_FINAL.pdf

[4] https://www.smmt.co.uk/2023/01/uk-car-production-down-but-electric-vehicle-output-surges-to-new-record/

[5] https://www.ft.com/content/4a83c441-8685-4e59-9781-1bc79262893a

[6] https://news.sky.com/story/advanced-battery-plant-in-oxfordshire-to-be-opened-later-this-year-creating-up-to-300-new-jobs-12789274

[7] https://www.faraday.ac.uk/ev-economics-study-2022/

[8] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1065576/taking-charge-the-electric-vehicle-infrastructure-strategy.pdf

[9] https://www.faraday.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/2040-Gigafactory-Report_2022_Final_spreads.pdf

[10] https://ukcmic.org/reports/the-potential-for-lithium-in-the-uk-2022.pdf

[11] https://ukcmic.org/reports/the-potential-for-cobalt-in-the-uk-2022.pdf

[12] https://ukcmic.org/reports/the-potential-for-nickel-in-the-uk-2022.pdf


[14] https://www.iea.org/reports/the-role-of-critical-minerals-in-clean-energy-transitions/executive-summary

[15] https://www.iea.org/reports/the-role-of-critical-minerals-in-clean-energy-transitions/executive-summary

[16] Benchmark Mineral Intelligence via https://www.greencarcongress.com/2022/05/20220521-benchmark.html

[17] Skilled Worker Visa: Shortage Occupations, GOV.UK, 15 February 2022.