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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.

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The NHM Mineralogy department covers a wide range of research topics, from fundamental mineral chemistry, to nanoparticles and nanotoxicity, to meteorite research, to ore expoloration and economic geology.

 

Research on mineral ores has always involved close collaboration with the mining industry and the NHM set up a centre to ensure more effective liaison with industry some years ago: CERCAMS, the Centre for Russian and Central EurAsian Mineral Studies.  This centre is supported by subscriptions from industry partners.

 

Reimar Seltmann, with CERCAMS associated researchers and members of the Working Group on Tin & Tungsten Deposits of the International Association on the Genesis of Ore Deposits (WGTT IAGOD), contributed to the compilation of the digital database on global tin and tungsten deposits, with the support of the Geological Survey of Canada.

 

 

Tungsten mineral NaturalHistoryMuseum_002374_IA.jpg

 

Tungsten in mineral form

 

The tin-tungsten database has been incorporated into the Geoscience Data Repository (GDR) of the Earth Sciences Sector, Geological Survey of Canada and is now accessible as an online publication (http://gdr.nrcan.gc.ca/minres/data_e.php). 

 

Sinclair, W.D., Gonevchuk, G.A., Korostelev, P.G., Semenyak, B.I., Rodionov, S., SELTMANN R., and Stemprok, M., 2011, World Distribution of Tin and Tungsten Deposits; Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 5482, scale 1:35 000 000.