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International critical minerals company Nyrstar has called on the federal government to include zinc to its critical minerals list, and to better align the country’s strategic approach to critical minerals with international partners.

In its submission to the federal government’s critical minerals list issue paper, Nyrstar advocated for the inclusion of zinc to the list, due to the growing requirement for it in the development and manufacture of a range of technologies, the role it plays in unlocking other critical minerals, and the considerable risk facing the supply chain for the metal due to the increasing concentration of zinc processing.

“Zinc is among the most used metal on earth playing an indispensable role in the development and manufacture of thousands of products important to Australia, our trading region, and our strategic partners. By including zinc on its critical minerals list Australia will join other nations including the US, Canada and South Korea and open up opportunities to strategically cooperate in addressing mutual supply chain risks,” Nyrstar’s co-CEO Dale Webb said.

“The market for minerals is an international one with supply chains for products and technologies spanning the globe, making it imperative for Australia’s critical minerals list to consider the economic security needs of both the nation and its international partners. By working together with allied nations to examine the supply and demand dynamics across the region and identify the risks or opportunities these pose, Australia has the potential to exponentially increase its ability to secure a more sustainable and prosperous future.”

The federal government in July launched consultation with industry members and stakeholders to update the critical minerals list to ensure the government could support the industry’s development and help Australia to work with international partners to build stronger global supply chains.

The current list, last updated in March of last year, includes 26 minerals but did not include nickel or zinc.

“Australia has an opportunity to move beyond an extract and export approach to its resources, and its critical minerals list presents an opportunity to strategically identify opportunities where it can play a greater role in zinc and other metals processing. To do this will require an assessment of resources that moves beyond the quality and volume of Australia’s minerals and instead takes greater account of the entire value chain,” said Webb.

“When thinking critical minerals, Australia needs to start thinking beyond just batteries. The clean energy transition is driving significant and rapid change in the volume of minerals and metals the world needs to support a diversity of low carbon energy solutions. Australia’s Critical Minerals List will benefit from a broader consideration of emerging technologies and products necessary for the growth of modern, industrialised economies, and the resources that are integral to their supply chains.

“Some critical minerals are not found in great volumes in Australia, but we know that they can be unlocked through the processing of other metals the world needs. Germanium, gallium and indium are just examples of some of the critical minerals that can be produced through processing zinc. Australia’s critical minerals list should consider every opportunity that metals processing can provide in securing a new advantage for the nation and its international partners,” Webb said.