The Critical Minerals Strategy released by the Federal Government sets out a high level, well considered six-point framework to guide the urgent work needed to develop Australia’s critical minerals mining and processing industries, and position them as the reliable, affordable and sustainable global supplier of choice.
While the government’s strategy is a leap forward, providing a coherent framework for integrating already well developed policy areas, it also highlights the significant work that remains to be done to deliver and implement an integrated Australian industry policy framework for mining processing and manufacturing.
The strategy’s success will depend on regulatory policy settings that encourage and support investment into Australian mining, processing and manufacturing. This includes stable taxation and economic policy frameworks, supported industry led fit-for-purpose ESG frameworks, workforce skills and capability development, and partnerships with Indigenous communities designed to support positive intergenerational wealth outcomes.
The $500 million inclusion from the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility, in addition to the funding available from the National Reconstruction Fund and the Export Finance facility, is helpful. However, careful policy consideration is needed to ensure these investments fully leverage Australia’s critical minerals potential.
The industry looks forward to working with the government to design and implement the detail of an integrated policy framework and deliver Australia’s potential as the global supplier of choice for the transition to net zero.
The stark reality of the monumental global net zero emissions transition is becoming clearer.
Global demand for raw minerals and metals over the coming decades is staggering.
Based on current mine sizes, by 2035 at least 384 new mines for graphite, lithium, nickel and cobalt alone are needed to provide the processed materials required to meet demand for electric vehicles.
By 2027, copper demand for manufacturing electric vehicles is expected to increase by 1.7 million tonnes.
These rapid changes to raw materials supply-demand outlooks is why the list of critical minerals and strategic materials must also be updated regularly and inform policy decisions.
The social and economic opportunity this presents for Australia will depend on state and federal governments successfully integrating and implementing policy and regulatory settings to remove impediments to new investment.
Australia is well placed to be the global supplier of choice for mined and processed critical minerals. Australia’s minerals industry is a world leader and has a global reputation for ESG performance and sustainable practices.
Supported by the right economic policy settings and international partnerships, Australia’s rich resource endowment enables it to produce and process the full spectrum of critical minerals the world needs for electrification of our cars and transport systems, our phones and laptop computers, our health and defence systems.
CEO, Minerals Council of Australia