The UK’s first ever Critical Minerals Strategy (22 July 2022) sets out the Government’s plan to accelerate and support domestic exploration and processing, including through signposting financial support and reducing barriers to exploration and extraction of critical minerals. It clearly outlines the need to identify new sources of these materials to bolster our energy security and domestic industrial resilience. From our cars to mobile phones, wind turbines to medical devices, modern society is quite literally built on rocks.
As technology evolves faster than ever, we become more and more reliant on a new cohort of minerals. We are moving to a world powered by critical minerals: we need lithium, cobalt (Co) and graphite to make batteries for electric cars; silicon and tin for our electronics; rare earth elements for electric cars and wind turbines. As well as those new minerals, we require an ever increasing amount of metals such as copper (Cu) and nickel (Ni) to support the development of consumer products and just as importantly, the electrical infrastructure required to supply them.
North East Scotland is a recognised high value target for magmatic Ni-Cu-PGE (platinum group elements) mineralisation that attracted leading global mining companies – including RTZ (Rio Tinto Zinc), Consolidated Goldfields, AMAX and INCO. Historical exploration pre-dates newer geological models and modern exploration techniques such as SkyTEM aerial surveys.
There is therefore potential for a district scale cluster of high value economic deposits across a large underexplored 10,000 km2 area. Thick, shallow Ni-Cu-Co mineralised drill intersections indicate potential scale and grade:
- Best intersection: 109.7m @ 0.3% Ni, 0.3% Cu, 0.02% Co from 17.3m, including 7.8m @ 0.5% Ni, 0.5% Cu and 0.03% Co
- Highest grade intersection at Arthrath project: 1.9% Ni and 1.0% Cu
- Highest grade intersection in the district reported: 3.42% Ni & 1.57% Cu
Strong local relationships have been built – and there are now exploration and access agreements for over 18,400 acres (74km2).
A range of Scottish and Uk government initatives make the North East a highly favourable location for mineral development – UK planning has a pragmatic approach to natural resources, strong rule of law, supportive local government and a world class offshore industry DNA.