Australia reckons it can become an ‘international powerhouse’ in critical minerals
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In recent months, Australia has stepped up its efforts to position the country as one of the leading suppliers of critical minerals.
And Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan reckons Australia can become an “international powerhouse in the supply of critical minerals with increasing demand from rising use of electric cars, renewable energy and smart phones”.
The latest move by the federal government has been to establish a new Critical Minerals Facilitation Office.
Critical minerals are essential for high-tech, aerospace, defence, renewable energy, agricultural, automotive and telecommunications technologies.
They include rare earths such as dysprosium and terbium, which are used in the development of clean energy technologies, and minerals such as antimony and manganese.
The new office will serve as the government’s central coordination point to grow the critical minerals sector.
It will work with critical minerals projects looking to access finance through Export Finance Australia, the Defence Export Facility and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).
“Australia has abundant reserves of critical minerals and rare earths and the government is committed to developing world-leading projects which improve diversity of supply in the global markets,” Canavan said.
Canavan announced the Critical Minerals Facilitation Office in November, ahead of crucial talks where Australia and the US formalised a partnership on developing critical minerals supply chains.
The two countries will develop a detailed plan to support joint action when senior officials meet in Washington in late February.
In December, Australian Defence Minister and WA Senator Linda Reynolds told Stockhead that between 70 to 90 per cent of critical minerals was currently controlled by a single country, which made the global supply chain vulnerable.
She added that Australia had a lot of opportunities to create a market for ethically sourced and traceable minerals.
The news is undoubtably welcome for companies such as Northern Minerals (ASX:NTU), which is progressing bench-scale separation test work for its Browns Range pilot plant project, and Hastings Technology Metals (ASX:HAS), which is progressing its Yangibana rare earths project in WA’s Upper Gascoyne Region towards production.
Other companies that could benefit from a dedicated critical minerals-focused office include Arafura Resources (ASX:ARU), Alkane Resources (ASX:ALK), Crossland Strategic Metals (ASX:CUX), RareX (ASX:REE) and Red Mountain Mining (ASX:RMX).