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United States Geological Survey director Jim Reilly and Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan formalising a US-Australia critical minerals partnership. Image: Geoscience Australia.

The Australian Government has opened a Critical Minerals Facilitation Office in Canberra to support the development of the nation’s critical minerals sector.

The office will work with all levels of government, industry and the science and research sector to develop Australian critical mineral resources and to maximise opportunities within the field.

Former senior official in Treasury, Prime Minister and Cabinet Jessica Robinson will lead the office, bringing with her experience in developing critical minerals and foreign investment policy.

The launch follows Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan’s announcement in November 2019 when Australia formalised a partnership with the United States to develop critical mineral supply chains.

“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.”

Australia and the United States will further develop a detailed plan to support joint action when senior officials meet in Washington in late February, complementing a range of actions Australia is pursuing with other key international partners including Japan, India and Europe.

The Export Finance Australia, Defence Export Facility and Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility will also offer financial support for Australia’s critical minerals projects.

The Critical Minerals Facilitation Office will work closely with the funding facilities as well as the Clean Energy Financing Cooperation, as it helps critical mineral projects to gain access to finance.

Australia is one of the world’s top five producers of critical minerals including antimony, manganese, ilmenite and rutile.

It is also the second largest producer of rare earths, accounting for 13 per cent of global production.