Australia has continued to zoom in on the growth of the critical minerals markets amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Federal, state and territory resources ministers have endorsed a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) critical minerals work plan that will be developed to support the emerging sector.
The governments have been working to develop Australia’s critical minerals sector, which culminated in a formalised partnership with the United States to develop the material supply chains in late 2019.
Australia also plans to bridge a closer relationship with India via the critical minerals sector in a bid to diversify the former’s trading base.
Unlike bulk commodities such as iron ore, the supply-side risks facing consumers of critical materials are significant, according to Perth USAsia Centre research analyst Hugo Seymor.
They include monopolised production, narrow markets and social challenges, he said.
The Federal Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said Australia was the world’s leading producer of three of the most sought-after critical minerals: lithium, titanium and zirconium.
“All are used in the manufacture of advanced technological goods and will be important to Australia’s ongoing importance in the international resources market,” Pitt said.
“Ministers, government and industry are working together to not only tackle the challenges facing the sector today, but to position the sector to lead Australia’s bounce back in the months ahead.”
The ministers agreed to maintain a coordinated approach to mitigate the impacts of coronavirus on the resources sector.
They intend to collaborate with businesses, communities and peak bodies to plan the sector’s recovery as the crisis continues to evolve.
Jurisdictions will also play a role in supporting and expediting this economic recovery, according to the ministers.
“Our resources sector is world-leading – both in terms of economic output, and the environmental, workplace and community outcomes that it models,” Pitt said.
“This positions it perfectly to compete, grow and thrive to the benefit of all Australians.”