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Australia to increase critical minerals investment with an additional $2 billion

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By Colin Hay - 
Australia critical minerals investment 2023

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has declared that the road to global net zero runs through Australia’s resources sector, as he used his visit to the United States as the stage to unveil a massive $2 billion investment in the nation’s critical minerals sector.

Australia’s mining sector has welcomed the news that the federal government has committed to doubling the capacity of its critical minerals facility to finance the nation’s critical minerals mining and processing projects.

The expansion of the Critical Minerals Facility takes the Government’s value-adding investments in Australian resources to $6 billion.

Importance of critical minerals

The Prime Minister said critical minerals, including rare earths, are the building-blocks for a clean energy future, and are essential to achieving Australia’s energy transition.

“Investing in critical minerals financing will bolster the sector in Australia, resulting in technology, skills, jobs and economic benefits for Australians,” the PM declared during his current US visit and catch-up with President Joe Biden.

Australia-US taskforce

Joined by Australian and US industry leaders following the inaugural meeting of the Australia-United States Taskforce on Critical Minerals, the Prime Minister said a sustainable and reliable supply of critical minerals is vital to supporting both Australian and United States manufacturing sectors.

“Australia is ideally positioned to provide responsibly-produced and processed critical minerals to fulfil this demand,” the PM declared.

“Cooperation with the United States on critical minerals is central to the Climate, Critical Minerals and Clean Energy Transformation Compact. The compact affirms the position of climate and clean energy as the third pillar of Australia’s alliance with the United States.”

“In our quest to build a better future, one of the things that makes it possible to reach so high is what lies beneath our feet. And in our continent, nowhere is that truer than in Western Australia.”

WA Chamber of Mines and Energy’s response

The PM’s reference to WA and its world class critical minerals sector was welcomed by the WA Chamber of Mines and Energy.

The chamber’s chief executive, Rebecca Tomkinson, said WA was already a world leading jurisdiction for the upstream production of critical and battery minerals globally, a factor that would continue to increase in importance to our nation’s trading partners.

“But Australia is a high-cost environment by international comparison, and state and federal policy initiatives and financial support are essential to ensure Australia is well positioned to meet the global demand for our critical and battery minerals to support the transition to net zero,” she said.

“With a rich natural endowment and strong environmental and social governance credentials, WA’s mining and resources sector can and should be a pivotal player in Australia’s sovereign and economic decarbonisation ambitions.”

WA already produces almost half the world’s lithium, including from the world’s largest hard-rock lithium mine in WA’s South West at Greenbushes.

Ms Tomkinson said it was pleasing to see the Prime Minister reaffirm WA’s role in the energy transition while in the US for the inaugural meeting of the Australia-United States Taskforce on Critical Minerals, particularly as the state hosts almost all the commodities on Australia’s critical minerals list.

PM’s vision for the future

In his speech, the PM declared the success of Australia’s Critical Minerals Compact is not just a matter of respective governments setting a goal.

“We need to make sure that our miners and our businesses have a seat at the table and a say in the process from the outset.”

“We want companies on board with the objective of expanding Australia’s role in the critical mineral supply chain and engaged in the work of achieving it at home and in the US.”

“Australia’s goal is clear: to build end-to-end sustainable, reliable and transparent critical minerals supply chains globally, with a key focus on the US,” the PM stated.