UK: Mining, Minerals and Fuel Resources

Topics Covered

Welcome to the UK
Overview of Resources
Industrial Minerals
Fossil Fuels

Welcome to the UK

The United Kingdom, with a total population of 63,047,162 as of July 2010, is an island nation located in Western Europe. The country covers a total area of 243,610 km2 and has a temperate climate.

UK is the third largest economy in Europe and is a leading financial center and trading power. In 2011, the country’s GDP was $2.29 trillion, and it was the second largest in Europe.

The national flag of UK.
Image Credit: CIA Factbook

The country has oil, coal and natural gas resources, though it became a chief importer of energy in 2005 due to a steep decline in its natural gas and oil reserves. In 2008, UK’s economic status was severely hit by the global recession and the government introduced a number of measures to stabilize the country’s financial condition.

Overview of Resources

The key natural resources of the UK include limestone, petroleum, coal, iron ore, lead, natural gas, tin, gold, slate, silica land, potash, chalk, gypsum and clay. Natural gas, coal and petroleum are of immense importance in the country’s mining industry.

UK is a chief regional processor of raw mineral materials and a producer and manufacturer of consumer durables. Given below are the 2010 production statistics of the UK in comparison with that of 2009.

  • Industrial production increased by 2.1%.
  • Mining and quarrying output decreased by 4.7%.
  • Production of base-metal and metal products increased by 7.1%.

Industrial Minerals

UK is a chief producer of barite and calcareous material for clays, cement and fluorspar. However the production of barite has been decreasing since 2005 with most of the production taking place in the Foss Mine near Aberfeldy in Perthshire, Scotland, by M–I Drilling Fluids (UK) Ltd.

Fluorspar is produced by the Glebe Mines Ltd, which is the only domestic producer of fluorspar in the UK. The company also supplies acid-grade fluorspar to two fluorochemical producers in the UK.

The map of UK. Image Credit: CIA Factbook


In 2009, the number of licenses for the exploration and development of new gold mines in the UK decreased from 32 to 24 though the number of leases remained constant. The exploration of gold mines continued at Omagh and Armagh in Northern Ireland and at Cononish in Perthshire County, Scotland. The deposits from Northern Ireland had a reserve of 367,310 Mt grading 7.52 g/Mt gold with a width of 4.43 m within the designated open pit area.

Based on the 2010 British Geological Survey, four licenses for the exploration of nickel were relinquished by Alba Mineral Resources plc in the Aberfeldy area in Perthshire County, Scotland.

Fossil Fuels

In 2010, UK witnessed a slight increase in its coal production sector. The Scottish Coal Co. Ltd., a leading opencast coal mining company in the UK, was ranked as the second highest net coal producer in the UK.

UK operates a number of surface mines and three deep mines. Annually, the deep mines produce more than 5.5Mt and the surface mines produce about 1.8Mt of coal.

Towards the end of 2009, UK had almost 3.6 billion barrels of crude oil reserves that were mostly located offshore on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). Most of the crude oil is obtained from basins located east of Scotland in the central North Sea. A good number of reserves are also found in the northern North Sea, east of the Shetland Islands. The North Atlantic Ocean contains smaller deposits of crude oil. The Wytch Farm field in the UK is the largest onshore oilfield in Europe.


UK coal, the biggest mining company in the UK, was recently fined £450,000 following the death of four miners underground due to safety issues. Productivity issues forced the owners of UK coal to plan a shutdown of the colliery in north Warwickshire by early 2014, though this may not be a permanent closure.

Despite the constant decline in UK’s production capacity, the country continues to establish itself as a leading European producer of refined products and crude oil. Offshore exploration of petroleum and natural gas will continue in the North Sea and onshore exploration of gold ores and mixed sulfide ores will continue in Northern Ireland.

UK’s steel industry is also likely to change in order to meet international trends and the increasing demand for steel. On the other hand, the production of aluminum is not likely to see positive change due to high electricity costs.

Experts feel that in the future UK will need to focus largely on boosting its economy by increasing the production capacity of its mining, industrial and fuel sectors.

Disclaimer: The Author of this article does not imply any investment recommendation and some content is speculative in nature. The Author is not affiliated in any way with any companies mentioned and all statistical information is publically available.


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