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A$50m in grants awarded to critical mineral projects

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Photo by Bloomberg

18th May 2023

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia


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PERTH ( – The federal government has approved nearly A$50-million in a second round of grants to accelerate the development of 13 critical minerals projects, which Resources Minister Madeleine King said would help to diversify supply chains, build domestic downstream processing and support new jobs and regional development.

King said the projects would speed up development of Australia’s critical minerals sector and help Australia and export partners lower emissions and meet net-zero commitments by 2050.

“The successful projects will create jobs and opportunities across regional Australia and help Australia realise its ambitions to be a clean-energy superpower. The 13 projects to receive funding under the Critical Minerals Development Program grants include plans to produce key inputs to lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, and to support supply chains for advanced manufacturing for aerospace, medical, energy and defence applications.

“The grants will support Australia’s new Critical Minerals Strategy, to be released shortly and which will outline how Australia can capture the significant opportunity of growing its critical minerals processing sector.

“Australia has remarkable potential to meet the increasing global demand for the critical minerals needed for clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles and batteries, as the world moves to decarbonise.”

In Western Australia, some A$5.5-million will go towards Australian Energy Storage Solutions for a pilot to set up Australia’s first precursor cathode active material manufacturing plant in Kwinana, while battery metals major IGO will receive A$4.6-million to support its integrated downstream nickel/cobalt refinery at Kwinana which will produce high-value nickel/cobalt/manganese precursor cathode active material.

A further A$1.2-million will go to Tungsten Metals Group for the production of ferrotungsten powders for advanced manufacturing for aerospace, medical, energy and defence products, while A$4.7-million will go to International Graphite to support the International Graphite WA mine-to-market battery graphite materials project. A$5.9-million has been awarded to ASX-listed Northern Minerals to support its Browns Range heavy rare earths project at Halls Creek, and A$1-million to Tungsten Mining to support test work for its Mount Mulgine tungsten project, while A$6.25-million will go to Magnium Australia to commercialise Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation patented technology for clean extraction of magnesium metal, and a magnesium refinery pilot plant in Collie.

In New South Wales, A$6.5-million has been awarded to Australian Strategic Materials for its Dubbo project to support mining, separation and refining, and a production facility for critical minerals including neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, terbium, zirconium, niobium, and hafnium, while a further A$2-million has been assigned to Clareville for testing and scale-up on its novel flotation separation additive which increases recovery of key critical minerals, such as lithium, cobalt and vanadium, by 50%, with no increase in carbon emissions or environmental impacts.

A further A$2.9-million has been awarded to Ecograf to support a graphite qualification facility at Lucas Heights.

In Queensland, the government has awarded A$5-million to Queensland Pacific Metals for the engineering and design for Phase 1 of a full-scale refinery for its Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub, a further A$1.2-million to High Purity Quartz to support a prefeasibility study for a project to build a solar photovoltaic (PV) grade quartz sand processing facility and a silicon metal production facility to establish solar PV cell manufacturing in Townsville, and A$2.2-million to gold miner Evolution Mining to support Ernest Henry operations to retrieve cobalt from mine waste.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) on Thursday said that the A$50-million in grants would accelerate the development of critical minerals mining and manufacturing projects which would help build Australia’s value chain in the global transition to net zero.

“This second tranche of grants under the programme provides funding to help progress early to mid-stage critical minerals projects towards financing and production. When mining, processing and manufacturing work together in an integrated approach to value chains Australia’s opportunity increases, with new jobs, regional development and economic growth,” said MCA CEO Tania Constable.

She noted that the grant programme recognised the diverse mineral and metal inputs and how the mined materials get processed, refined and come together as active components of batteries and solar panels as well as aerospace, medical, energy and defence technologies.

“Grants support the mining, processing and refining of raw materials, including heavy rare earths, tungsten in Western Australia, and cobalt in Queensland, recognising the links between mining and manufacturing.

“The government is also supporting investment in the processing, refining and manufacture of energy chemicals and metals used in energy technologies such as batteries, wind turbines, electric motors, solar panels and nuclear facilities.”

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies has also welcomed the grants, with CEO Warren Pearce saying the award of the grants was a welcome first step as industry awaited the finalisation of the government’s Critical Minerals Strategy.

“However, greater levels of support will be needed if Australia is to capture the value-adding opportunity that exists across a wide range of critical minerals.

“The US’ Inflation Reduction Act can provide $370-billion in tax breaks and grants to attract critical minerals investment to the US. Nations around the world are implementing major incentives to attract investment into their countries in critical minerals processing and value-adding,” said Pearce.

“Australia must not be left behind. We can realise greater value from our resources and build a vibrant critical minerals processing industry here in Australia. We have the minerals, a highly skilled workforce, and the commercial acumen to develop these orebodies into value-added products. But we need to compete for the international capital needed to finance these projects.

“Today’s targeted grant program is a start, but much more will be needed,” said Pearce.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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