The Australian Government has released a discussion paper and opened public consultations on the future of Australia’s critical minerals industry and how the sector can grow to help Australia become a clean energy superpower.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King said the consultations would inform the Government’s new Critical Minerals Strategy and help the sector capitalise on the global boom in demand for clean energy technologies.
Australia has abundant reserves of critical minerals such as lithium, silicon and rare earths, which are key components of low-emissions technologies such as batteries, solar panels and electric vehicles which will help Australia and the world to lower emissions.
“The Australian Government is committed to growing Australia’s critical minerals resources and industries which will be crucial to help Australia and the world to meet our commitments to net zero emissions by 2050,” Minister King said.
“Australia has an exciting opportunity to leverage our abundant critical mineral resources to support the development of low-emissions technologies, and to become a trusted, stable and reliable supplier to the world.
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“Critical minerals are also crucial for technologies that power our homes, offices, factories, vehicles and mobile phones, as well as for medical technology and defence applications.”
Minister King said the 2023 Critical Minerals Strategy would focus on creating economic opportunities, including for regional Australia, and on developing new sovereign capabilities in downstream processing as well as Australia’s manufacturing industries.
“By leveraging our competitive advantages, the critical minerals we mine and refine here, can help us move up the value chain and into downstream processing, helping to create new opportunities and high-paying jobs across Australia, including in our regions,” she said.
Australia already produces almost half of the world’s lithium, is the second-largest producer of cobalt and the fourth-largest producer of rare earths.
However, demand for low-emissions technologies is projected to skyrocket over the next three decades, which is expected to lead to more demand for lithium, cobalt, graphite and rare earth elements, among others.
The Government will bring together stakeholders across a range of sectors to ensure that all views on the opportunities, challenges and solutions faced by the sector are heard to help inform Government policies.
She said the issues in the discussion paper reflect the importance of the critical minerals industry to the Government and Australia’s ambition to become a clean energy superpower.
It will also focus on helping Australia build reliable, competitive and diverse supply chains, attracting international partners and investment, and meeting Australia’s ongoing commitment to the highest environmental, social and governance standards net zero goals.
Minister King also said the new strategy will ensure that critical minerals are mined and processed in ways that make a positive contribution to the lives of local communities, First Nations Australians and the quality of our natural environment.
“We will consult widely with industry and community stakeholders, including First Nations Peoples, to develop a new strategy to build and strengthen the sector and attract investment,” she said.
The Hon Madeleine King MP, Minister for Resources and Minister for Northern Australia