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Australia must take advantage of critical mineral riches

Australia is set to become more selective about who it lets invest in its growing critical minerals industry, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said on Friday. As…

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This article was originally published by Australian Mining

Australia is set to become more selective about who it lets invest in its growing critical minerals industry, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said on Friday.

As a major supplier of minerals key to the energy transition like rare earths, Australia has more to gain by encouraging investment from allies to build up its minerals processing industry, Chalmers told the Australian Critical Minerals Summit in Sydney.

“Foreign investment is a good thing when it’s in our national interest,” he said.

“But as investment interest grows, and as the sources of that investment interest grow, we’ll need to be more assertive about encouraging investment that clearly aligns with our national interest in the longer term.”

Chalmers said that at present, the world was getting a reminder in real‑time of the costs and consequences of over‑relying on a substantial supplier of a critical resource.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has delivered a Russian‑made energy crisis the world over,” he said.

“Unsurprisingly, that’s helped elevate the conversations already underway about the highly concentrated nature of commodity markets, including critical minerals supply chains, as they currently stand.”

Jim Chalmers.

In this context, Chalmers said Australia can boast:

  • Some of the world’s largest reserves of globally significant deposits
  • A mining industry with some of the world’s most talented people
  • And a reputation as a solid investment destination.

“Mining has done so much to drive our national prosperity to this point,” he said.

“And in this next era, it will underpin Australia’s position as a clean energy superpower. This is a sector too often misunderstood.

“Some people don’t seem to get just how crucial the mining industry is, and will be, to our net‑zero and clean energy ambitions.

“Our country has the iron ore the world needs to build renewable energy infrastructure.

“Our country has the minerals and rare earths the world needs – to build batteries and cars, to build wind turbines and solar panels, phones and fighter jets, MRI scanners and satellites.

“And in a global market where dirtier mining practices overseas have diminished the status of green consumer goods – our country has the capacity to become the trusted supplier to the emerging green super‑firms.

“We have exactly what the world needs, exactly when the world needs it.

“So from that, I draw this conclusion: critical minerals could be the opportunity of the century. This is a generational opportunity that we cannot miss or mishandle.

“Our government recognises this – and we are determined to make sure that this historic opportunity translates into industrial strength, and long‑term prosperity for our country and for our people.”

Australian Mining.

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