3rd International Critical Metals Conference – Report

The 3rd International Critical Metals Conference, organized by the Mineralogical Society’s Applied Mineralogy Group, was held at the Surgeons Hall venue, Edinburgh from 30th of April to the 2nd of May 2019.

Seventy scientists gathered in the late spring sunshine in Edinburgh to discuss Critical Metals. The organizers took an interesting approach to building the programme with speakers on three main themes:

  • Critical metals for low carbon transport

  • Responsible sourcing of critical metals

  • Geology and resources of critical metals

The third of these was perhaps the most familiar ground for mineral scientists, but the work presented in themes  1 and 2 was fascinating and the meeting gave an excellent opportunity for the broader community to meet, including representatives from NGOs etc., materials science, Geo-ethics, as well as the more usual (as far as MinSoc is concerned) mineralogy and exploration folks.

This unique blend of disciplines allowed the conference to take a holistic approach to some of the biggest questions facing critical metals: the role they will play in the decarbonisation of the future, where those resources will come from and how can they be exploited in a sustainable manner. Talking points on the nature of criticality and how it is a very subjective topic were evident as delegates from more than 15 countries were present. Our keynote speakers, David Merriman, Jacqui Murray, James McQuilken, Kathryn Goodenough, Paul Nex and our Early Career Researcher keynote Anouk Borst, provided excellent overviews and talking points on some of the current issues. The opportunity to speak to representatives from different parts of the critical metals supply chain was invaluable and based on the buzz at breaks and the conference dinner, networking abounded!

Highlights from the conference included significant discussion on battery raw materials and where those metals were going to be sourced. Discussion across geological surveys, governmental representatives were fruitful for all involved and great links were made between organisations which would not typically be present in the same room. Particular comments from delegates included the appreciation of the sustainable development talks in the middle of the conference where the message from people on the ground was conveyed to both end users and geologists.

Programme and abstract volume.

Also below is a copy of the programme with links to those presentations where permission has been received from the authors to publish here.

A special issue of Mineralogical Magazine will appear in 2020 arising out of papers presented during the meeting and by authors who could not attend but who work in this area. Go to https://www.editorialmanager.com/minmag/default.aspx to submit your paper to the Critical Metals 2019 special issue.


Critical metals for low carbon transport: Session chairs: Evi Petavratzi and Gus Gunn

David Merriman (keynote)@ The EV Revolution: Impacts on critical raw material supply chains

Michaux: Projected battery minerals and metals global shortage

Rietveld: Exploration of worldwide metal demand of low carbon transport and impact of circular economy strategies

Butcher: The evaluation and development of lithium brine prospects: examples from the Altiplano Puna, South America

Lundhaug: How much do we know about material cycles? An application of the MinFuture framework

Horn: Europe’s cobalt resource potential for supply to lowcarbon vehicles

Danino-Perraud: A Material Flow Analysis of cobalt: observation on the evolution of the cobalt flows in the European Union from 2008 to 2017

Pell: Integrating life cycle assessment into the planning stages of critical metal projects

Jacqui Murray (keynote): Electric vehicle batteries: the UK government perspective

Mikkola: Battery mineral project of Geological Survey of Finland, government organisation reacting to rising demand

Schmid: Why the European automotive industry struggles to secure its need for critical raw materials

White: Low carbon transport and the Sustainable Development Goals: what role should geologists play?

Ganev: Impact of EU climate and energy policy on Silicon production

Lottermoser: Recovery of critical metals through waste valorisation: Cerro Colorado copper deposit, Rio Tinto, Spain

Barnett: The role of a biobased circular economy approach in sustainable critical metal extraction: the rare earth elements

Jha: Analysis of Sustainable Manufacturing Approaches for Cobalt and Lithium Titanates as battery materials

Responsible sourcing of critical metals. Session chairs: Megan Barnett and Rob Pell

James McQuilken (keynote): Critical metals from small–scale mining for development: The importance of the African Great Lakes Region and Delve Data Collaboration

Moore: Conflict and critical raw materials production: a tale of antimony production in the Balkans

Paneri: Renewable Energy Systems for Sustainable Mining

Doyle: Environmental & Social Maturity as a new concept for self-assessment of best practice in a mining context

Caven: Building an ecosystem for change in the responsible sourcing of critical metals – The Impact Facility for Sustainable Mining Communities

Bilham: A possible framework for responsible sourcing schemes, standards and mechanisms across mineral supply chains

Patton: Issues in securing access to critical minerals; experience from Northern Ireland

Lusty: Deep-sea mining: A responsible source of critical metals or a step beyond the environmental limits of our planet?

Geology and resources of critical metals I. Session chairs: David Kaeter and Cristina Villanova-De-Benavent

Kathryn Goodenough (keynote): The geology of decarbonization

Grant: Are some Critical Metals a potential secondary resource in modern seafloor massive sulphide deposits?

Lehrmann: Trace element systematics of sulphides and associated alteration phases from inactive hydrothermal vents at TAG, Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Josso: The critical metal potential of ferromanganese crusts: New insight from the north-east Atlantic

Lehtonen: Advanced indicator mineral research concept for the critical mineral exploration in glaciated terrain

Armitage: The Songwe Hill rare earths project, Malawi – geological observations on the recently announced mineral resource upgrade

Elliott: Fenite exploration criteria surrounding carbonatite-hosted critical metal deposits

Beard: Deposit-scale geomodels for REE and HFSE exploration in carbonatite and alkaline-silicate magmatic systems

Jenkin: Critical and precious element recovery with environmentally benign deep eutectic solvents

Horsburgh: Smart Sorting of minerals

Geology and resources of critical metals II. Session chairs: Sam Broom-Fendley and Hannah Grant

Paul Nex (keynote): Have the Wheels Fallen off your “Hype Cycle”? A retrospective look at criticality: tantalum, rare earth elements and lithium

Siegfried: Scandium as an important critical metal in the quest for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the 21st century

Nwoko: Elemental Se and Te nanoparticles biosynthesised by Aerobasidium pullulans: Characterization, separation and detection with DLS, AF4-UV-MALS-ICP-MS/MS, spICP-MS and TEM

Lima: A new vision for the genesis of Santa Helena breccia, Borralha W deposit NW of Portugal

Solferino: Energy Critical Elements (ECE) in the English Lake District – Scar Crags, Dale Head North

Gloaguen: Overview and assessment of the European lithium resources

Kaeter: Two generations of cassiterite in albite–spodumene pegmatites from Leinster, SE Ireland: Implications for tin mineralisation in lithium pegmatites

Geology and resources of critical metals III. Session chairs: Charlie Beard and Nicky Horsburgh

Finch: Critical Metal Mineralisation Associated with Magmatic Roof Zones

Broom-Fendley: Sulphate-bearing monazite-(Ce) from silicified dolomite carbonatite, Eureka, Namibia: substitution mechanisms, redox state and HREE enrichment

Kynicky: The role of carbonate-fluoride melt immiscibility in shallow REE deposits evolution: New evidence from Mongolia

Smith: Ion Adsorption Deposits: A comparison of deposits in Madagascar and China

Villanova-De-Benavent: Adsorption experiments of REE onto kaolinite in low pH water and NaCl solutions

Anouk Borst (ECR keynote): Peralkaline-hosted Critical Metal Deposits: From magmatic enrichment to hydrothermal mobilisation


Alfonso: Mineral chemistry of In-rich minerals from the San José ore deposit, Central Andean Tin Belt, Bolivia

Beard: Geomodels for REE and HFSE exploration in carbonatite and alkaline-silicate magmatic systems

Deady: Volcanic-Derived Placers as a Potential Resource of Rare Earth Elements: The Aksu Diamas Case Study, Turkey

Lacinska: The effect of X-ray energy overlaps on the results of chevkinite (Ce, La, Ca, Th)4(Fe2+, Mg)2(Ti, Fe3+)3Si4O22 microanalysis using SEM EDS-WDS

Li: Genesis of the Zudong regolith-hosted HREE deposit in South China

Liang: Formation of selenium- and tellurium-containing nanoparticles during the growth of filamentous fungi

Price: Crystallisation Pathways of Mixed La and Nd Carbonates

Zhou: Rare earth element deposits in China


Eimear Deady organized the meeting with support from, Jindrich Kynicky, Aoife Brady, Alicja Lacinska, Kevin Murphy and Russell Rajendra.


Finally, thanks to those who supported the meeting financially: