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Australia secures domestic supply of critical minerals

Wednesday, March 16th, 2022

critical minerals

The Federal Government has dedicated $243 million across Australia’s critical minerals industry to reduce the country’s reliance on Chinese resources.

The funding comes as part of the government’s $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative which forms part of the Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Processing Roadmap.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor outlined the current nature of Australia’s reliance on Chinese resources.

“Australia is lucky to have some of the largest reserves of the critical minerals and metals which drive the modern global economy,” he said.

“But China currently dominates around 70 to 80 per cent of global critical minerals production and continues to consolidate its hold over these supply chains. This initiative is designed to address that dominance.”

Alpha HPA and Orica have received $45 million toward the capital expenditure of the full-scale high-purity aluminium (HPA) project in Gladstone, Queensland.

Alpha managing director Rimas Kairaitis explained the importance of the funding.

“This grant recognises the unique potential for the HPA first project to supply critical high purity aluminium materials to the important de-carbonising industries of LED lighting and eMobility,” Kairaitis said.

The Alpha funding follows a statement of cooperation from the companies with the Queensland Government to cement the region as an industrial and renewable energy powerhouse.

Arafura Resources has also received $30 million from the Federal Government which will go towards the construction of a $90 million rare earth separation plant at its Nolans rare earths project in the Northern Territory.

The Nolans plant will be an Australian first and the second of its kind outside of China.

Arafura managing director Gavin Lockyer said the plant would greatly benefit Australia’s clean energy transition.

“Rare earths are critical to the manufacture of electric vehicles and wind turbines, with demand growth forecast to be exponential in coming decades” he said.

“Australia has a window of opportunity to invest in strategically important rare earths projects such as Nolans and maximise the local jobs and investment benefits of the clean energy revolution.”

The government funding also saw Australian Vanadium receive $49 million support the development of its namesake project in Western Australia.

The project includes an open cut mine and a crushing, million and beneficiation plant south of Meekatharra and a vanadium pentoxide processing plant near Geraldton.

Australian Vanadium managing director Vincent Algar said the project was another important piece to Australia’s critical minerals puzzle.

“Our project will create hundreds of jobs in Australia and help to build the critical vanadium industry both locally and internationally,” he said.

“We have developed an innovative and collaborative approach to building a fully integrated project, from mine through to processing and end use in the steel and battery markets.”

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