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Bruce Yardley appointed Chief Geologist

Bruce Yardley (Leeds University) has been appointed Chief Geologist by The Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD) of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

Chartership news

Chartership Officer Bill Gaskarth reports on a projected new logo for use by CGeols, advice on applications and company training schemes

Climate Change Statement Addendum

The Society has published an addendum to 'Climate Change: Evidence from the Geological Record' (November 2010) taking account of new research

Cracking up in Lincolnshire

Oliver Pritchard, Stephen Hallett, and Timothy Farewell consider the role of soil science in maintaining the British 'evolved road'

Critical metals

Kathryn Goodenough* on a Society-sponsored hunt for the rare metals that underpin new technologies

Déja vu all over again

As Nina Morgan Discovers, the debate over HS2 is nothing new...

Done proud

Ted Nield hails the new refurbished Council Room as evidence that the Society is growing up

Earth Science Week 2014

Fellows - renew, vote for Council, and volunteer for Earth Science Week 2014!  Also - who is honoured in the Society's Awards and Medals 2014.

Fookes celebrated

Peter Fookes (Imperial College, London) celebrated at Society event in honour of Engineering Group Working Parties and their reports

Geology - poor relation?

When are University Earth Science departments going to shed their outmoded obsession with maths, physics and chemistry?

Nancy Tupholme

Nancy Tupholme, Librarian of the Society and the Royal Society, has died, reports Wendy Cawthorne.

Power, splendour and high camp

Ted Nield reviews the refurbishment of the Council Room, Burlington House

The Sir Archibald Geikie Archive at Haslemere Educational Museum

You can help the Haslemere Educational Museum to identify subjects in Sir Archibald Geikie's amazing field notebook sketches, writes John Betterton.

Top bananas

Who are the top 100 UK practising scientists?  The Science Council knows...

China Syndrome

Geoscientist 22.01 February 2012

In October last year, the go-ahead was finally given to a new gold mine in Scotland. This occasioned great media interest - and surprise among people living beyond the villages and farms around Cononish, near Tyndrum (where they have been arguing its pros and cons for decades). Mining company Scotgold Resources now estimates that £50m of gold may eventually be recovered from them thar banks and braes of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

The timing of this is clearly not unrelated to rocketing prices during a time of financial recession. But gold is far from the only metal shooting up in value. At the other end of the UK, at Hemerdon near Plymouth, Wolf Minerals will soon exploit one of the largest tungsten (and tin) resources in the western world. This new mine will provide security of supply for the UK, making it a net exporter by 2014 and directly creating 230 jobs. Metal mining is coming back home.

Both ends of the tungsten market are, as with so many strategic elements, dominated today by China. China dominates production; and not so long ago it flooded the market and prices tumbled. Now, China now consumes much of its output, forcing global prices sky-high. Hemerdon, producing 3000 tonnes per year, will be one of the biggest tungsten mines in the world, and help to restore some balance.

Tungsten is an example of a “strategic metal”, a shortage of which could prove economically and politically sensitive - especially when reserves are concentrated in just one or two countries. In our feature this week, Mark Tyrer explores emerging concerns over the supply of strategic metals and minerals - a concern which industry (and the Society) are attempting to bring to the attention of politicians in meetings and briefing notes.

Governments need to wake up to this. China enjoys many advantages, including immense mineral wealth; but another is that, uniquely, it is more or less run by engineers and scientists – rather than lawyers and professional politicians. Technocrats make up most of the Chinese politburo, and they are quick to grasp strategic scientific arguments. In a world where increasingly, China keeps all the strategic minerals that it produces for itself, the rest of the world must be on its mettle - and look to its rocks.