Australia, India sign critical minerals deal

Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project. Image: Pilbara Minerals

Australia has inked an agreement with India to supply critical minerals needed for the new energy economy.

It focuses on avenues to increase trade, investment and research and development between the two countries, according to Australia’s Resources Minister Keith Pitt.

Australia is pushing the small but strategic markets. Lithium exports are expected to be worth $3 billion in 2024-2025, compared with $69 billion for iron ore.

Pitt said Australia had the potential to be one of the top suppliers of cobalt and zircon to India, being in the top three for global production of these minerals.

“The MoU identifies specific areas where Australia and India will work together to meet the raw material demands of the future economy, particularly the increased global demand for critical minerals,” he said.

Other minerals Australia could supply include antimony, lithium, rare earths and tantalum.

“India presents growing opportunities for Australia’s critical minerals, especially as the nation looks to build its manufacturing sector, defence and space capabilities,” Pitt said.

“Indian Government policies such as the ‘Make in India’ program, and its goal of moving to full electric mobility by 2030, are expected to increase Indian demand for critical minerals.”

The agreement was the outcome of a virtual meeting between Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where the two leaders discussed increasing trade relationships between the two nations.

Earlier this year, the Australian Government opened a Critical Minerals Facilitation Office in Canberra to support the development of the nation’s critical minerals sector.

The office will work with all levels of government, industry and the science and research sector to develop Australian critical mineral resources and to maximise opportunities within the field.

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