United Kingdom faces potential minerals shortage

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The Mineral Products Association (MPA) has released a briefing, stressing the importance of maintaining productive capacity of essential minerals to and beyond 2042.

A significant number of mineral planning permissions in the UK are due to expire on the same day in 2042.

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The 1981 Town & Country Planning (Minerals) Act imposed an end-date on all historic planning permissions for mineral working across the UK that were granted permission before 22 February 1982 without an end-date, 60 years after the power came into effect.

This deadline applies to sand, gravel and crushed rock used to support construction activity, as well as minerals that support cement production, building stone, silica sand, industrial clays, and industrial lime.

In response to this, the MPA has released a briefing, stressing the importance of maintaining productive capacity up to and beyond 2042.

It asserted that while some operations will have exhausted their reserves by then, many sites may still contain commercially viable reserves, and may still be producing essential minerals.

Making the most of these reserves is vital due to a shortage of mineral reserves.

Currently, mineral reserves being sold and consumed at a faster rate than they are being replaced, which has been an ongoing issue for “well over ten years,” the MPA said.

According to the MPA’s AMPS Report 2021, “replenishment of aggregates reserves is already below ‘parity’ with sand and gravel at a 10-year average of 63 per cent and rock at 76 per cent, meaning that reserves are already gradually being run down.”

Likewise, “it can typically take 10 to 15 years to identify and prove resources, secure land and rights, prepare and submit planning applications, and for these to be determined and permissions issued,” the MPA said.

Due to this, the implications of the 2042 deadline will start to become significant in around five years’ time, it asserted.

To mediate this, the MPA said it will undertake “further work to understand the legal routes through which the ability to continue to work these resources can be secured, where this may be appropriate.

“In the meantime, central and devolved government, mineral planning authorities and where appropriate Aggregate Working Parties and Regional AWPs need to be aware of the potential for a supply crunch, especially for crushed rock, beyond 2042,” it said.

Whether new existing reserves are re-consented or alternative reserves are secured, “the workload required to deliver the necessary casework over the next 20 years will be significant,” the MPA said.

“Given the essential nature of mineral supply to the delivery of national ambitions for infrastructure and housing, whilst increasing our resilience to climate change and delivering the roadmap to net zero, it is vital that the issue of transitioning to 2042 and beyond whilst replenishing supply is addressed now,” the MPA said.

Source: www.quarrymagazine.com