Automotive Transformation Fund boosts UK critical material options 

22 July 2022

The UK government announces the backing for a British critical material plant, providing funding through the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF), managed by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

The grant unlocks further investment to create an expanded rare earth refinery at Pensana’s Saltend Chemicals Park near Hull, vital to supplying the UK’s low-carbon industries.

This facility is of strategic importance in providing the materials needed for magnets, which make up to 60% of the value of motors used in electric vehicles and wind turbines, and has been the focus of improved resource provenance for those sectors.

Julian Hetherington, Automotive Transformation Director at the APC said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity for securing the materials vital for decarbonisation of the automotive sector and for clean power generation. It is a further demonstration of UK competitiveness in upstream and midstream materials processing and contributes significantly to improved supply chain resilience and provenance of these vital materials. I am delighted that the Automotive Transformation Fund has been able to contribute to and unlock significant private investment. Our support is a reinforcement of the UK’s continued commitment to the extended localised supply chain for low-carbon industries”.

By boosting capacity in refining rare earth elements in the UK, the automotive industry will welcome diversification of where these rare earth metals are sourced as it aims to accelerate towards net-zero emission vehicles.

The APC has called for a robust magnet manufacturing supply chain and improved global access to rare earths, as currently China has 90% of the rare earth magnet market.

In the global race to industrialise technology for a net-zero future, this report shares key elements needed to achieve that, including: access, processing, manufacturing and recycling.

Today also saw the launch of the government’s Critical Minerals Strategy. It aims to bolster the resilience of supply chains and seize on the economic opportunities of growing industries, such as electric vehicle manufacturing and offshore wind. The investment in the facility at Pensana’s Saltend Chemicals Park will support this. 


Pensana Chairman, Paul Atherley and Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng

Automotive Transformation Director, Julian Hetherington

Automotive Transformation Director, Julian Hetherington