Australia to be critical minerals powerhouse

Image: Talison Lithium

Australia has mapped out its 2019 critical minerals strategy which envisions the country as a world leader in exploration, extraction, production and the processing of critical minerals.

The government will target “the three ‘i’s” – investment, innovation and infrastructure – to remove barriers for the sector.

Australia is uniquely placed “to capture the value on offer” through rising global demand for critical minerals, according to Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham.

These are the minerals that will underpin the industries of the future, including agritech, aerospace, defence, renewable energy and telecommunications.

The market for some of Australia’s minerals such as lithium was relatively mature, but other minerals markets such as cobalt remain largely underdeveloped, Birmingham said.

“We’ve got the stocks, we have the potential and now we need to develop the downstream and high-value activities right here in Australia such as processing and manufacturing,” he added.

“Our next challenge is about attracting and locking-in domestic and overseas investment needed to actually get projects off the ground that will take our sector to the next level.

“That’s why a key part of this strategy is about how industry and government agencies such as Austrade can work together to promote our potential to the world to attract more international investment, particularly in downstream projects and greenfield opportunities.”

However, Mineral Councils of Australia chief executive Tania Constable said investment in the next wave of base metal and critical commodity mines and processing plants was “not guaranteed”.

“Australia faces growing competition to attract international capital the resources industry needs to convert this potential into lasting economic benefits,” Constable said.

“Government investment in innovation, skills and investment promotion is valuable, but more needs be done.”

Canavan, in launching the strategy, said Australia has “a strongly supportive government” –  essential to positioning the country as a reliable and secure international supplier of many critical minerals.

“Investing in critical minerals supports the nation’s economy and will create more jobs for Australians by growing our resources sector,” Canavan concluded.

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