At the end of 2022, I looked into the interesting work that was being done in Aberdeenshire regarding exploration for mineral deposits containing materials crucial in construction of electric vehicle (EV) batteries, the steps required for this to come to fruition, and how likely Aberdeenshire is to see such mining activity. While the possibility of mining such materials on our shores appeared an extremely exciting possibility for both Aberdeenshire and the UK as a whole, the financial viability of such mining operations was still very much in question.
In an announcement by Aberdeen Minerals Ltd this week, a big step forward has been taken towards such mining operations beginning, with over £1.1 million being raised through the issue of shares to new and existing investors to help further develop the mineral production potential of North-east Scotland. Further, Aberdeen Minerals Ltd has also outlined the potential for mining for palladium and platinum, materials currently on the UK Critical Minerals List.
As previously commented, nickel, copper and cobalt are essential in the production of lithium-ion batteries and electrical infrastructure to support the rapid growth of renewable energy production and electrification of transport. Currently though, Scotland and the rest of the UK rely on overseas supply chains for provision of such materials. Therefore, the opportunity to mine such materials in Aberdeenshire would allow for a direct UK supply, eliminate costly overseas supply chains, and help towards maximising the social and economic opportunities for Aberdeenshire and the UK as part of the just transition towards net zero.
This new funding allows for Aberdeen Minerals Ltd to further their exploration efforts, including a drilling programme, and related activities in North-east Scotland at the Arthrath Project, the largest know nickel deposit in the UK. The drilling activities will verify and expand upon previous drilling carried out in the area in the 1970s and will further investigate the higher grade nickel-copper-cobalt mineralized zones.
While there still may be some way to go before any materials are removed from the ground, this represents a huge step forward in the potential production of materials for EV batteries on our shores, and could be another string in the bow for Aberdeenshire, and the region’s pivotal role in energy production for Europe. Further playing into Aberdeenshire's hands for mining potential, and as recognized by Aberdeen Minerals Limited, the region has a geographical topography and a climate inductive of year-round operations, and a workforce with a great deal of knowledge and skills transferrable from the oil and gas industry to mining operations.
After seeing Aberdeenshire miss out on green Freeport status, and with the UK government appearing to take a particularly dim view on future oil and gas exploration, this is welcome news for the North-east of Scotland.