This three-talk series uncovers the importance of rare earth minerals, both in history and in the creation of new greener technologies. You can also come to 16 Queen Square and visit our summer exhibition, Riches of the Earth, showcasing some of the beautiful minerals from our own Collections. The exhibition is open until early October, 10am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday.


Wednesday 31 May, 7.30pm – Rare Earth Minerals: Critical Geopolitics, Economics & Environmental Issues – BOOK HERE

Critical earth minerals are essential to everything today.  Our technology, from the iPhone and smart fridge to advanced batteries and supercomputers, critical earth minerals enable our transition to a cleaner economy and what many call the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, many in government, business, and science spheres have raised concerns about how to ensure the West’s continued supply of these critical earth minerals, considering the dominance of China & Russia in this market. This lecture explores the complicated intersection between geopolitics, economics, and environmental science in light of this pressing challenge.

Bennett Hawley, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia


Tuesday 27 June, 7.30pm – The Age of Minerals – BOOK HERE

As the UK moves towards Net Zero emissions and a greener future, we will move from “The Age of Oil” to “The Age of Minerals”.

To make wind turbines, solar panels and the batteries required for electric cars, we need minerals which contain specialist metals such as lithium, cobalt and rare earth elements. As they cannot be grown, these minerals must be mined.

This talk will give an overview of the transition to The Age of Minerals and how we can move towards sustainable mining, that is mining which protects environments, ecosystems and humans.

Karen Hudson-Edwards, Camborne School of Mines


Wednesday 12 July, 7.30pm – Mineral Pigments in Archaeology & Art History – BOOK HERE

Minerals were the first pigments used by humans and continue to be found on artists’ palettes to this day. A wide range of minerals and geological deposits have been processed and used as pigments, both for paintings and cosmetics. These include earth pigments derived from ochres, chalk and other soft, earthy formations to pigments derived from (usually) non-silicate minerals. Throughout their history, earth and mineral pigments have been important global trade commodities and some have found huge value as prestigious materials in their own right.

This talk will introduce both common and unusual minerals used as pigments and tell the story of their history, provenance, trade and their place in society.

Ruth Siddall, University College London

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