For Information on the 4 4-year research projects please visit -


At the same time as growth in developing economies is driving up demand for minerals and energy, the actions required to mitigate and adapt to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere demand significant changes in energy generation, distribution and utilisation. Increased use of renewables, more electric and hybrid vehicles, and efficiency improvements in domestic and industrial electronics all increase demand for, and hence raise concerns over the security of supply of, specific elements. (Click on graphs for a larger view).

Launched on February 18th 2013, by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) the initial aim of the Security of Supply of Mineral Resources (SoS Minerals) network was to provide a networking facility to support the development of proposals for the SoS Minerals programme. This Group has provided a forum for those with an interest in the Mineral Supply Chain and has been used to deliver relevant information on NERC and other related programmes. The aim is to provide a vehicle for communications between academia and industry across what is a global market. This group is open to anyone with an interest in the Mineral Supply Chain and our aim is engage people from across the entire supply chain.

The research projects have now been awarded: -

The Security of Supply of Mineral Resources programme is backed by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, (EPSRC) in partnership with industry and academia, and a Brazilian funding agency (FAPESP). The total funding is about £16 million.

Significant changes in the way energy is generated and utilised are required to manage and control the impact of increased levels of Greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. This initiative focuses on the science needed to enhance the security of supply of strategic elements that underpin current and future green energy technologies — the 'e-tech elements': cobalt (Co), tellurium (Te), selenium (Se), neodymium (Nd), indium (In), gallium (Ga) and heavy rare earth elements (HREE).

The programme will enhance the security of supply in two ways;

• through improved understanding of e-tech element cycling and concentration in natural systems

• developing improved recovery processes from primary sources in order to mitigate the environmental impacts of the extraction and recovery of these elements.

The programme funds four competitively won projects that directly involve over 50 industrial partners and more than 25 universities and research organisations. It directly funds 24 postdoctoral research associates and 17 PhD researchers. The aim is to develop world-leading research and scientists.

• The SoS RARE project aims to understand the mobility and concentration of Nd and HREEs in natural systems, and to develop new processes that will lower the environmental impact of rare earth element (REE) extraction and recovery. The interdisciplinary team will investigate REE geology, chemistry and metallurgy, for conventional REE deposits and ion adsorption clays.

• The principal aim of the CoG3 project is to understand the natural behaviour and biogeochemistry of Co in order to develop and apply novel bioprocessing strategies for Co extraction and recovery, and the synthesis of targeted products using an integrated multi-institute and multidisciplinary approach.

• The Marine E-tech project will enhance understanding of cycling and concentration in marine seafloor ferromanganese deposits. A geometallurgical approach will be used to assess the potential for recovery of e-tech elements using technologies such as bio-processing and ionic liquids. The potential ecological disturbance resulting from recovery of these resources from sensitive marine environments will be assessed.

• The TeaSe project aims to: identify and quantify key processes and conditions that control the cycling and concentration of Se & Te through crustal systems. The understanding of mineralogical- to crustal-scale repositories of Se & Te will be enhanced,, identifying potentially exploitable resources. Novel processing techniques will be developed to improve recovery of Se & Te and minimise environmental impacts.

There will be collaboration between all four projects to enhance the training and development of this cohort of researchers. The programme aims to create links across the material supply chains; for further information please contact Tony Hartwell (  

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Contact Us

If you would like any further discussion about the purpose of this group or how to make the most of group membership please feel free to contact:

Tony Hartwell

Tony Hartwell

Mobile:        +44 (0)775 726471



The Natural Environment Research Council has set up a dedicated e-mail address for the Security of Supply of Mineral Resources programme at

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