PERTH (miningweekly.com) – An abundance of critical minerals and world-class mining expertise could provide Australia with an avenue for further economic growth, a new report by Geoscience Australia has found.
Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan said on Friday that the report, titled ‘Critical Minerals in Australia’, analysed the current state of critical minerals in the country and highlighted key areas for future research.
“Australia is already demonstrating it can meet the needs of key trading partners in a range of critical minerals. We are one of the world’s top five producers of antimony, cobalt, lithium and rare earths, minerals rated as ‘critical’ by the US, UK and the EU.
“The growing list of new and emerging technologies using critical minerals includes advanced manufacturing and health applications, rechargeable batteries, renewable energy systems and electric cars.”
The report notes that considering Australia’s leading expertise in mining and processing, as well as extensive mineral resources likely to contain critical minerals, there is potential for Australia to develop into a supplier of critical minerals.
However, Australia’s opportunity to develop into a supplier of critical minerals is significantly affected by a number of factors, including: insufficient knowledge of critical minerals in Australian deposits and their behaviour during metallurgical processing, and few geological studies dedicated to assessing and facilitating the discovery of critical mineral resources in Australia.
The report also highlighted the need for new mining technology and services to economically extract critical minerals and identified gaps in capabilities of domestic smelters/refineries to process critical minerals.
“For Australia to reach its full potential and maximise its position in the global critical minerals market, these issues require further research and investigation,” the report said.
Canavan said the Australian government was committed to ensuring Australia reached its potential as a global supplier of critical minerals.
“Australia’s National Resources Statement released in February 2019 outlined the development of a national strategy through the Council of Australian Governments Energy Council to harness the emerging opportunities offered by the critical minerals sector,” Canavan said.
“We also announced critical minerals projects would be prioritised in the latest industry funding round, which closes on March 28. By investing in critical minerals, we’re helping to grow our resources sector, driving the nation’s economy and creating more jobs.
“We’re engaging with our key trading partners on critical minerals. Late last year, I signed a Letter of Intent with my counterpart from the US agreeing to collaborate on joint activities in the area of critical minerals.”