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Lithium batteries critical mineral

Geoscience Australia has reported significant increases in Australia’s inventories of critical mineral resources.  

The annual Australia’s Identified Mineral Resources (AIMR) report has found the country’s economic inventories have increased for rare earths (up 4 per cent), lithium (up 8 per cent), vanadium (up 23 per cent) and platinum group elements (up 185 per cent). 

Geoscience Australia’s Mineral Resources Advice and Promotion director Allison Britt credited the increase to rapidly rising global demand. 

“There is an urgency to discover new world-class resources to meet this projected demand and further develop the pipeline of mineral resources that will anchor secure supply chains for Australia and our partners,” Britt said. 

The report also found that Australia was the world’s leading producer of iron ore and bauxite, along with critical minerals rutile and lithium. 

Australia provided 49 per cent of the global supply of lithium, an essential mineral for battery storage and the transition to electric vehicles. 

“The International Energy Agency forecasts nickel and lithium use in batteries will increase sixfold and thirteen-fold, respectively, by 2040,” Britt said. 

The annual AIMR report has been tracking the nation’s known mineral resources using industry data since 1975 and in 2020, reported that investment in mineral exploration reached $2.8 billion, an increase of 6 per cent compared to the previous year. 

“We’re seeing demand for these minerals grow, particularly as the world transitions to low-emissions technologies,” Britt said.  

The AIMR report also shows an increase to Australia’s emerging potash industry. 

Potash is a crucial fertiliser mineral used by the agriculture industry. The economic resources of potash in Australia increased by 21 per cent in 2020. 

“It’s exciting to see the first commercial domestic production of potash in Australia achieved in late 2021,” Britt said. 

“With this, Australia is on its way to reducing its reliance on imports and strengthening national food security.”