Thursday 18th Aug, 2022

Australia’s minerals could make it into a renewable energy powerhouse

The Critical Energy Minerals Roadmap found significant potential for Australia to turn its rich mineral resources into high purity materials and products through refining and value-adding manufacturing
Image Credit: Phawat khommai

New research has revealed how Australia’s mining and manufacturing sectors and work together to become a renewable energy powerhouse.

The CSIRO in its Critical Energy Minerals Roadmap found that the two sectors could turn resources such as lithium and silicon into much needed products for renewable energy, like electric vehicles, solar panels, and wind turbines.

CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall said the global demand for renewable energy technologies would mean the future global economy would be underpinned by critical energy minerals.

“Australia’s future economic prosperity will depend on how well we can use our vast energy and mineral resources to play to our strengths and create new opportunities through the global transition to net zero emissions,” Marshall said.

“There is a wealth of opportunity in front of us that will only be fully realised by developing a Team Australia response.”

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The report, co-funded by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources’ Critical Minerals Facilitation Office, examines the renewable energy technologies expected to undergo accelerated growth and assesses Australia’s potential to derive value from minerals needed to manufacture them.

It also considers Australia’s comparative strengths along each of the technology supply chains to help guide investment in local manufacturing.

The Critical Energy Minerals Roadmap estimates the metal value of the energy transition’s top technologies to reach more than AUD$5 trillion dollars globally by 2050, over half of that being battery metals.

CSIRO’s Director Mineral Resources Jonathan Law said Australia could significantly increase the value of its mineral exports, enable more local manufacturing, and strengthen global supply chains.

“Rather than just extracting the minerals and shipping them away to be refined and turned into products, Australia has a real opportunity to operate all the way along the energy value chain, from extraction to processing, separating, refining and manufacturing high value materials and products,” Law said.

“Connecting our mining and manufacturing sectors can create an investment ecosystem that supports domestic supply chains and resource circularity for our critical minerals.

“The roadmap also demonstrates the economic opportunities that can be harnessed by strategically investing in new critical mineral deposits and processing technologies that reduce cost and environmental footprint.”

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