The Federal Government has added two more minerals to the critical minerals list as part of its 2022 Critical Minerals Strategy.
High purity alumina (HPA) and silicon were added to a list of 26 critical minerals which also includes cobalt, lithium, manganese, titanium and vanadium.
Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt said further diversification was key to this year’s Strategy.
“This updated strategy is a plan for a thriving critical minerals sector that supports Australian prosperity and security,” he said.
“Continuing to develop and diversify our resources sector strengthens our national economy, delivering jobs and growth opportunities, especially in regional Australia.”
HPA has a “moderate” geological potential in Australia while silicon was rated as “high” in the new Strategy.
Both are recognised on the EU’s Strategy, but silicon remains an omission from the United States’ priorities.
Australia is currently the world’s largest producer of bauxite – the ore used to make aluminium – and the second-largest producer of smelting grade alumina with annual exports of around $13 billion.
The Strategy was recently boosted by a raft of government funding, including $50 million over three years to establish the virtual National Critical Minerals Research and Development Centre.
This followed a $243 million pool provided as part of the government’s $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative which forms part of the Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Processing Roadmap.
This included $45 million to Alpha HPA for a full-scale HPA project in Gladstone, Queensland; $30 million towards Arafura Resources rare earths separation plant; $119 million to Pure Battery Technologies’ battery material refinery; and $49 million to Australian Vanadium.
Pitt said Australia’s position as a leader in these sectors was only set to increase.
“Australia has been blessed with extraordinary reserves of the critical minerals needed by these sectors,” he said.
“We produce around half the world’s lithium, are the second-largest producer of cobalt and the fourth-largest producer of rare earths. But we have the potential to do so much more.”