Critical elements research

Critical elements are crucial to the development of technology in modern society.

The Museum's extensive ore and mineral collections hold important information about the distribution of critical elements (CE) in Earth's rocks.

We are using Museum collections and a focused research programme to develop strategies for the sustainable use of Earth's natural resources. 

Our studies include lithium, cobalt, scandium, gallium, indium, selenium, tellurium and rare earth elements.

Research projects and collaborations

CoG3 cobalt project

A collaborative and multidisciplinary project exploring new techniques for cobalt extraction and recovery.

From Arc Magmas to Ores

The Museum is working with industrial and academic partners to develop new exploration tools that will help locate metal resources in volcanic arcs by understanding the fundamental processes involved in cycling magmas, fluids and metals in these zones.


The Li4UK project is demonstrating the feasibility of producing battery-quality lithium compounds from lithium found in UK rocks and geothermal waters.

LiFT (Lithium for Future Technology)

Identifying sustainable lithium resources for a low carbon economy.

The Centre for Russian and Central EurAsian Mineral Studies

 CERCAMS is a centre for research on the geodynamics and metallogenesis of the former Soviet Union and its neighbouring territories, including China and Mongolia.

Museum researchers

  • Alla Dolgopolova
    Rare earth elements and gallium in laterites and bauxites of Kazakhstan.

The Jadar deposit, Serbia

Investigating the natural mineral diversity and formation processes of jadarite.


The Serra Verde lateritic deposit

Exploring the potential for extraction of rare earth elements in the Goiás province of Brazil.

Selenium and tellurium

Identifying additional selenium and tellerium resources and developing sustainable extraction processes.


Scandium in geological systems

Studying the mineral residence and behaviour of scandium to understand how deposits form and to improve extraction practices.