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Critical minerals hit the road map in Australia’s future


The Australian Government has forecast the future role of the critical minerals sector in its third road map for the national manufacturing priority list.

The resources technology and critical minerals processing road map detailed a 10-year plan for Australia to become a global leader in cutting-edge technology and supplier of resources services.

Broken into two, five and 10-year goals, the plan aims to improve access to the supply chain by positioning Australia as a go-to supplier for the sector.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the priority list and road maps would be critical to the nation’s economic rebuild in the wake of COVID-19.

“Yesterday’s national accounts showed the comeback of the Australian economy is well underway and manufacturing businesses and jobs will be central to our national economic recovery plan as we build back from the COVID-19 recession,” the Prime Minister said.

“Our modern manufacturing initiative (MMI) will help position Australia as not just a global leader in the resources sector but also in the manufacturing of the technology used, as well as turning the raw materials into value-added products.”

The MMI is a $1.3 billion fund to help manufacturers increase production, commercialise products and access global supply chains.

Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the funding would support countless manufacturers across the 10-year plan.

“This funding will back businesses to pursue those opportunities and turn innovative ideas into high value products so we can build on Australia’s competitive advantage and secure greater investment and market share,” Andrews said.

Chief executive officer for the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) Steve Knott said critical minerals have extreme employment potential.

“Department of Industry data shows there are more than 20 critical minerals projects that are either already committed or advanced in planning, in our major project pipeline. AMMA forecasts these projects will create at least 2700 new jobs in the next five years,” Knott said.

“Further, there are more than 50 additional prospective projects, less advanced in the pipeline, that could see that jobs figure tripled if those opportunities could be converted to committed investment.”

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) believes the resources road map will help solidify Australia as a first call global mineral supplier.

“Putting Team Australia on the global critical minerals map will help attract the investment and technology necessary to meet the growing needs of global supply chains for critical and other minerals for high value products like batteries, solar cells and other innovative and early stage technologies,” an MCA statement outlined.

Applications for the MMI opened today for those in the priority area, allowing projects to hit the road map as soon as possible.

The five other manufacturing priority areas are space, medical products, food and beverage, recycling and clean energy, and defence. The latter three road maps are yet to be released.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane said he expected the state to play an important part in the implementation of the latest road map.

“As Australia seeks to develop greater sovereign capability and the ability to process and manufacture more higher-value products onshore, Queensland’s vast resources can provide the building blocks across a range of sectors from Defence, to batteries and other renewable technologies,” Macfarlane said.

“Queensland’s resources sector has been a pillar of economic stability for the state through the uncertainty of the pandemic.”

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