Australia’s critical minerals sector receives $22M gov’t boost

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Image credit: industry.gov.au | Allkem

The Australian Government has announced approximately $22 million in investments for three key research projects that will help boost the nation’s critical minerals industry.

The funding was awarded to projects spearheaded by members of the Critical Minerals Research and Development Hub, namely the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), CSIRO, and Geoscience Australia. 

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King said the new research projects will support Australia’s Critical Minerals Strategy and help the country establish its position as a global clean energy supplier. 

“The path to net zero by 2050 runs through Australia’s resources sector. The new research will help Australia further develop critical minerals and rare earths processes and encourage downstream processing to produce components for clean technologies,” Minister King said. 

ANSTO received $13.9 million in funding, which it will use for a research project that aims to accelerate the delivery, extraction, and processing of rare earth elements from lower-grade deposits. 

CSIRO, meanwhile, secured $5.2 million for the development of intellectual property to support downstream industries producing high-purity metals and materials, extending value chains, rare earths and supporting value-adding to tungsten ores and refractory metals. 

Finally, $2.7 million went to Geoscience Australia’s research into development opportunities of a domestic industry for critical minerals such as gallium, germanium, and indium, which are often by-products from processing primary commodities such as bauxite and zinc. 

Critical minerals and rare earths are crucial components in the manufacture of clean energy technologies, such as storage batteries, electric vehicles, solar panels, and wind turbines. 

They are also a much-needed resource for the development of defence and medical technologies. 

The Critical Minerals Research and Development Hub was established as part of the October 2022 Budget as part of an initiative aimed at unlocking Australia’s critical minerals potential.