Two minutes with… Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds on critical minerals
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Stockhead stole a few minutes with Australian Defence Minister and WA Senator Linda Reynolds at today’s New World Metals Conference in Perth and asked for her views on why shareholders should invest in Australian critical minerals and rare earths projects. Here’s her take.
Stockhead: Why is it important for Australian investors and companies to support developing critical minerals projects in Australia?
Reynolds: Australia is a large source of the known world supplies across many of the commodities in terms of metals and also rare earths that increasingly the world is requiring for the technology that we use every day for defence technologies.
But the key vulnerability at the moment is that 70 to 90 per cent of most of these commodities is controlled by one country. So that does make a very vulnerable global supply chain.
The federal government understands that there is not yet a free and functioning marketplace for many of these commodities due to a number of the factors that I went through in my speech.
So we see that there is, and we understand that there is, a role for the federal government to work whole of government to change some of the levers and to make it possible for industry to develop some of these deposits, seek offtake agreements that provide more diversity in supply chains.
This is something that the government can assist industry with, but ultimately industry here and overseas need to one, recognise the supply and demand impediments and work together to develop fully free and functional markets where all companies and all nations who need access to these minerals are able to get secured supplies.
Stockhead: Do you see a freer market and a more diversified market as one that will be out to support more lucrative returns for investors backing rare earths and critical minerals in Western nations?
Reynolds: Yes. At the moment here, for the reasons I outlined in my speech, it’s very clear that it is quite a challenging market for investors to invest early in.
So it is important to provide an environment in the market where there is more opportunities and more willingness for investors to invest in the production across many of these.
But we also need to put more money into research and development to make the production of these minerals and the processing of these minerals more cost effective.
Stockhead: Do you have any final views on the topic?
Reynolds: I think the issue where Australia has significant competitive advantage, both in our mining operations in Australia and globally, is in the area of traceability and sustainability and ethical mining.
There is little, if any, visibility or transparency in the supply of much of these commodities from a single source, which results in what we’re now calling the rise of blood minerals.
So Australia has a great opportunity to push the ethical production and sustaining in terms of labour and also in terms of environmental standards.
We have a lot of opportunities to create a market and a premium for ethically sourced and traceable minerals.