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Morrison plans A$1.5bn manufacturing strategy

1st October 2020

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

     

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PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has highlighted the role the mining and resources sector will continue to play in Australia’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Morrison on Thursday revealed details of a A$1.5-billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy, which identified resources technology and critical mineral processing will be one of six key priorities, along with food and beverage manufacturing, clean energy and recycling, and the space and defence industries.

“As the world’s leading mining economy, Australia can capture min-tech and critical minerals processing based on our natural resource endowment. Our high-skilled workforce and world-class technological capability,” Morrison said.

“Australia’s mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector, already plays a key role in adding value beyond resource extraction in the mining supply chain. At the same time, we know demand is increasing for critical minerals that are inputs to batteries, and renewable technologies and other manufactured materials - from partners like Japan, the US and Europe providing us with opportunities to just move up that value chain.”

Morrison noted that achieving scale in these six identified target areas would be a multi-year project, with the government taking a ten-year perspective.

Having identified the six priority areas, the government would now partner with industry to co-design roadmaps geared to build scale in each sector.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) on Thursday pointed out that Australia’s mining and manufacturing industries have always supported each other, with CEO Tania Constable pointing out that the METS sector already supported one in ten Australian jobs.

“Expanding the networks of local suppliers and supporting the commercialisation of inventions will create further job opportunities.

“The METS sector is an unsung champion of Australian manufacturing, with three-quarters of METS companies building and selling into mining along with other sectors of the economy,” Constable said.

“Further development of Australia’s critical minerals capability will also serve to expand manufacturing across the entire economy.

“Along with proposed changes to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility and lower energy costs, significant new investment in mining, processing new materials and manufacturing is now a stronger prospect, enabling the manufacturing of lithium, graphite and a range of high performance metals for use in Australia.

“These new materials are essential for emerging technologies, including computers, health care, communications and clean energy.”

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) of Western Australia has welcomed Morrison’s support with CEO Paul Everingham saying the Modern Manufacturing Strategy would be well-received by Western Australia’s mining and resources sector.

“CME and its members welcome the Federal Government’s commitment to developing Australia’s manufacturing capabilities and scale, including in resources technology and critical mineral processing,” Everingham said.

“It was pleasing to note the numerous references Morrison made to battery technology and Australia’s potential to move down the global battery manufacturing value chain. It’s well-documented that Western Australia, with its abundance of hard-rock lithium, nickel projects and rare earth deposits, is uniquely placed to be a major player in this space. 

“As the Prime Minister pointed out, Australia’s mineral and resource reserves are a natural advantage. In Western Australia, this has translated into a world-class sector that supports more than 130 000 jobs and which contributed A$9.29-billion in royalties to the state government in 2019/20.

“But the level of upfront investment required of operators is significant and so is the risk that goes with it. Resources are often located in very remote parts of Australia where access to essential services and infrastructure is lacking,” Everingham said.

He noted that the introduction of investment incentives and other funding mechanisms would play a key role in reducing these barriers, contribute to the growth and diversification of the sector, and in turn, facilitate growth of the broader economy.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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