Ministers have been urged to allow more UK mines and to seek alternative suppliers of metals such as tungsten, copper, tin and lithium, rather than rely on China and some African regimes. Prof Frances Wall, from the Camborne School of Mines in Cornwall, said: “The Middle East held everybody to ransom in the oil crisis. “The country that has been way out in the lead thinking about raw materials is China.
“They are importing South American material and refining it, along with cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo,” she added.
She said electric cars can be made only if the batteries can be produced nearby too “and you can’t make the batteries without the raw material”. She said the UK must move fast unless we want rival nations “to hold [us] to ransom”. She added: “The car industry could disappear. Tens of thousands of jobs can disappear.”
Alexander Stafford, Tory MP for Rother Valley, said there must be more domestic mining so supplies can be guaranteed.
He said that without the minerals “our society just cannot function. The consequences of instability in the critical minerals supply chain would be terrible.”
It follows fears that a coal mine in West Cumbria may not open, and lithium and tungsten extraction may meet opposition too.