Australia could reap extra $9.4bn from critical minerals

The Australian Government has reiterated its commitment to ensuring Australia reaches its potential as a global supplier of critical minerals following the release of a report from Geoscience Australia.

The report’s conservative estimate showed Australia could add around $9.4 billion of value to the nation’s mineral and metal production through the production of four critical commodities – hafnium, niobium, rare earth elements and scandium – from existing mines and favourable deposits.

This is an increase of about eight per cent to Australia’s current value of $112.2 billion in mineral and metal production.

Critical minerals are metals, non-metals and mineral compounds that are both economically important and vulnerable to supply disruption.

According to Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan, Australia was well placed to produce significant extra wealth from its extensive mineral resources and world-class mining expertise.

“Australia is already demonstrating it can meet the needs of key trading partners in a range of critical minerals,” Canavan said.

“We are one of the world’s top five producers of antimony, cobalt, lithium and rare earths, minerals rated as ‘critical’ by the United States, United Kingdom or European Union.

“By investing in critical minerals, we’re helping to grow our resources sector, driving the nation’s economy and creating more jobs.”

The report gave credits to Australia’s leading expertise in mining and metallurgical processing as well as extensive mineral resources likely to contain critical minerals. This should provide Australia the opportunity to develop into a “major, transparent and reliable supplier of critical minerals for the global economy”, according to the report.

However, a few key areas that need addressing include insufficient knowledge of critical minerals in Australian deposits, few geological studies dedicated to assessing and facilitating the discovery of critical mineral resources in Australia and the need for new mining technology and services to extract the minerals economically.

Geoscience Australia, a government agency for geoscience research and geospatial information, commissioned the report in collaboration with RMIT University and Monash University.

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