Critical minerals, Events

A critically important event

After a highly successful inaugural event in 2023, AusIMM’s Critical Minerals Conference is set to hit Brisbane from August 26–28.

Critical minerals have become fundamental to the modern way of life.

From their role in electric vehicles to wind turbines, solar panels and everything in between, it would be hard to imagine a world without critical minerals, making the discussions about their future all the more important.

And when AusIMM’s Critical Minerals Conference touches down in Brisbane in August, these conversations are set to take off.

“For our 2024 conference, we’ve really tried to elevate the conversation around critical minerals,” Arcadium Lithium general manager technical services Leigh Slomp told Australian Mining.

“The conference will be a combination of strong technical content with some high-level keynote speakers and conversations around the global critical minerals supply and need.”

Arcadium Lithium general manager technical services Leigh Slomp.
Image: AusIMM

Slomp has been working in the industry for over 25 years, and with most of his experience centred around Western Australia and the lithium-tin-nickel industry, he is no stranger to the importance of Australian critical minerals.

Slomp was also a part of the organising committee for last year’s inaugural Critical Minerals Conference, which gave him the ability to witness first-hand the important role networking plays at such an event.

A strong networking focus has evolved into the emergence of Critical Conversations – a unique aspect of this year’s event that will bring attendees together on the exhibition floor in a relaxed, conversational style.

“Critical Conversations gives delegates the opportunity to not just sit and listen to the speakers but to actually come and participate in some of these conversations,” Slomp said.

“The discussions are facilitated by CSIRO senior staff and the conference organising committee, and it gets some really robust conversation going.”

Among other things, the Critical Conversations aspect of the conference is an opportunity to discuss the future of the Australian critical minerals sector – something about which Slomp is deeply passionate.

“If Australia really does want to be at the forefront of critical minerals supply globally then we really need a coordinated approach between government and industry,” he said.

“Red and green tape can really slow down trying to do important things like extending mine life.”

Slomp also flagged volatile lithium and nickel pricing as another challenge the industry is facing.

“The current price trend is counterintuitive to all of the hype around the electrification of the world and decarbonisation,” he said.

“And that might be due to the fact that there wasn’t a mass uptake of electric vehicles, which has caused this sort of reset of the industry and the supply–demand price.”

But Slomp is hopeful things are turning around.

“I’m looking forward to seeing more of an alignment in policy between state and federal governments in the future,” he said.

“Once we have that alignment, we can easily implement strategies which will work for industry.”

Finances and the decarbonisation journey will also be key topics at AusIMM’s Critical Minerals Conference. Renowned keynote speakers will be discussing supply chain demand, mineral economics, government roles, discovery and development, and new technologies, among other topics.

“We will have a real focus on discussions, including a panel discussion, around a green premium for critical minerals,” Slomp said.

“We’re trying to have a robust conversation around when and how we can start to see a premium for these ethically sourced critical minerals.

“Elevating the conversation around government strategy for industry, funding, investment, and impacts of the geopolitical climate and how that’s impacting critical minerals supply and demand drivers is going to be particularly important.”

AusIMM’s Critical Minerals Conference will be held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre from August 26–28.

This feature appeared in the June 2024 issue of Australian Mining.

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