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Government must reverse the UK's diminishing reserves of essential minerals - Mineral Products Association

Mineral Products Association

3 min read Partner content

A steady and adequate supply of aggregates needs to be planned, monitored and managed, all of which require support and strong direction from central Government, says MPA.

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) has published their 7th Annual Mineral Planning Survey (AMPS 2018) which covers the period to the end of 2017. It is based upon data for the whole of Great Britain provided in confidence by MPA members.

The Survey has been produced in the context of a revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and against the backdrop of aggregates demand that was broadly flat during 2017.

Demand for land-won sand and gravel continues to outstrip the amount of new reserves being permitted, with the 10-year average replenishment rate decreasing to 53%. During 2017, newly consented sand and gravel reserves represented just 24% of annual sales. In the case of crushed rock, the 10-year average replenishment rate has reduced significantly to 69%, with new reserves permitted in 2017 representing just 3% of 2017 sales.

As with previous AMPS reports, the latest data signals that the long-term reserve base upon which the aggregates sector is so dependant remains under pressure. The number of applications for new mineral resources submitted by the industry continues to be low, reflecting the cumulative costs of obtaining access to land and the necessary permissions and permits, together with the underlying political and economic uncertainty.

The sustainable future supply of essential minerals cannot be assumed, it requires effective planning, management and monitoring. There is a continued and clear desire from both local authorities and from industry for the National and Sub-national Guidelines for aggregates provision to be updated to support the Managed Aggregate Supply System (MASS).

The MPA’s ‘Long term aggregates demand & supply scenarios, 2016-2030’ indicates that a cumulative total of between 3.2 to 3.8 billion tonnes of construction aggregates are likely to be required by 2030 to support economic growth and development across Great Britain. To secure the supply of these materials will require active management, supported by data to monitor performance, to ensure the right resources are made available in the right place and at the right time.

Announcing the publication of AMPS 2018, MPA Executive Director of Planning and Mineral Resources, Mark Russell said:

“While the revision of the National Planning Policy Framework earlier this year reinforced the essentiality of minerals supply to supporting the delivery of Government’s policy ambitions around housing & infrastructure, the long-term downward trends in replenishment rates identified in the latest AMPS report underline the fact that the supply of essential minerals cannot be assumed.

The recent publication of Government’s Construction Sector Deal explicitly acknowledges the role and importance of mineral products in the wider supply chain that supports housing and infrastructure development.  This is further supported by the UK Minerals Strategy, produced by the minerals and mineral products industry, which sets out the steps needed to help ensure that society’s demands can be supplied sustainably for the next 25 years.

A steady and adequate supply of aggregates needs to be planned, monitored and managed, all of which require support and strong direction from central Government. A well supported, forward looking Managed Aggregate Supply System is vital to allow mineral planning authorities to plan in good time for future mineral demand, and to give the industry the confidence to plan forward investment to meet that same demand.”

If there is no reversal in the reported trend of diminishing reserves, it is inevitable that increasing tensions in maintaining future supply will emerge.

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