Alexander Stafford MP – The United Kingdom must lead the world in the responsible ESG mining and processing of critical minerals

House of Commons, UK Parliament

I am pleased to be bringing a UK-focused policymaking perspective to this year’s conference. As the chair of the ESG APPG and the vice-chair of the Critical Minerals APPG, I am a strong supporter of the UK’s role in responsible, sustainable critical minerals mining and processing. It is in the arena of green finance and environmental, social, and governance that the United Kingdom is matchless, and these strengths will ensure that the British critical minerals industry sets the new gold standard for global mining.

With COP26 in Glasgow and the G7 Summit in Cornwall this year, Britain can and must take the lead on ESG responsible mining. The western world’s demand for critical minerals is set to soar as we ramp up our renewable energy generation, and certain autocratic regimes have proved themselves during the pandemic to be unreliable partners in terms of both national security and human rights. These dictatorships control an alarming proportion of the world’s critical minerals mining and processing capacity.

As we pivot away from untrustworthy nations, it is a chance for Britain, Five Eyes, and the Commonwealth to control the narrative surrounding mining. If we do things our way, we can use our ESG toolbox to ensure that we prevent exploitation upstream and create opportunities and prosperity for those in mining nations, alongside protecting our precious ecosystem. At the same time, by repatriating the midstream processing to Britain and also encouraging mining within the UK, we can increase our self-reliance and further control the ESG standards of the supply chain. I am a firm believer in a ‘positive mining culture’, pioneered by the British and engaging each letter of the ESG acronym. A British mining trademark stamp must be the new industry standard, to the extent that inferior operations in autocratic nations are pushed out of the mainstream market.

Britain is world-renowned for its strict mining regulations and close system of oversight. Our stellar reputation will be appreciated by those who work at every stage of the supply chain but also by our customers. It is clear to me that better ESG practices lead to a better product and in turn better profit margins for all involved. This ensures long-term business resilience for companies whilst safeguarding the UK’s national security, aiding our net zero ambitions, creating jobs and wealth in every corner of Britain, and turbocharging UK plc for our critical minerals exports of skills and rare metals.

For all of this to come true, we need the UK Government to release an ambitious national critical minerals strategy akin to Australia’s recently released plans. The strategy must contain provision for creating a thriving upstream and midstream in Britain, commitments to work with overseas allies on a coordinated critical minerals network, and details on a common set of ESG metrics by which the British mining industry must comply.


Alexander Stafford is the Conservative MP for Rother Valley. His election in December 2019 marked the first time the seat had been won by a non-Labour candidate since the constituency’s creation in 1918. In Parliament, he champions the green recovery, having previously worked for WWF and Shell. As a member of the BEIS Select Committee, chair of the ESG APPG, and vice-chair of the Critical Minerals APPG, he is a leading voice for the role of hydrogen, green finance, ESG, and critical minerals in Britain’s drive to reach net zero and to level up communities across the country.

Alexander sponsored the first ever debate on critical minerals in the UK Parliament, alongside his work on this issue in national media and his chairing of industry events. He believes Britain must secure its critical minerals supply chain by working with Five Eyes partners and Commonwealth allies; that we must repatriate midstream processing to the UK’s industrial regions; and that we must support British critical mineral mining capacity in the south-west of England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. A strong critical minerals strategy will safeguard our national security, create jobs and prosperity throughout every corner of Britain, aid our ambitious green agenda, and turbocharge UK plc worldwide.