Saturday 22nd Feb, 2020

New body to facilitate critical minerals development

A new government office has been launched to support the development and growth of Australia’s critical minerals sector.

The Critical Minerals Facilitation Office will work with all levels of governments, industry and the science and research sector to maximise opportunities and develop downstream industries.

It will be led by Jessica Robinson, who has experience in developing critical minerals and foreign investment policy.

Australia is one of the top five producers of critical minerals such as antimony, manganese, ilmenite and rutile and is the second largest producer of rare earths, with 13 per cent of global production.

Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan said Australia’s abundant resources of critical minerals were a crucial component of modern high-technology and clean-energy industries.

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“We have the potential to become an international powerhouse in the supply of critical minerals with increasing demand from rising use of electric cars, renewable energy and smart phones,” Canavan said.

“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.”

Robinson will hold a series of stakeholder roundtable meetings around the country in early 2020 to promote and explain the role of the Office and its priority actions.

The Office was announced in November 2019 ahead of talks between the United States and Australia where the two countries formalised a partnership on developing critical mineral supply chains. A detailed plan to support this will be further developed when senior officials meet in Washington in February, complementing a range of actions Australia is pursuing with its international partners.

Projects will be eligible to apply for financial support through Export Finance Australia, the Defence Export Facility and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility. The Office will work closely with these funding facilities and the Clean Energy Financing Cooperation to help projects access finance.