The UK parliament's House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology has released its report on strategically important minerals with a number of recommendations to government. The Natural History Museum, among others, made a written submission of evidence.
Strategically important metals include elements such as Niobium, Tantalum, Tungsten and others that are found usually in quite resticted geographical areas in relatively small amounts. Some of them are commonly called rare earth elements. They are important in industry and technology: their physical and chemical properties are important in the development of advanced electronic components for computing and communications, for example.
This means that they are economically important for the development of industry and governments and as demand rises, or supply falls or is restricted, the price of components rises. Research in ore formation, distribution, extraction and refinement from Museum scientists such as Richard Herrington can help to open up new sources of supply and make use of existing resources more efficient.