Australia has reportedly approved AUD$50 million ($34 million) in funding for six critical mineral projects to accelerate development in the sector. The move comes as part of the country’s efforts to achieve net zero emission targets by 2050.
Australia is the biggest global producer of rare earths after China and has been making significant investments to diversify the procurement of critical minerals, with relations between Beijing and Western nations turning tense.
Madeleine King, Minister for Resources, has stated that the grants will help quicken early and mid-stage projects and propel new investments in the country’s processing and manufacturing abilities, while it develops its critical minerals sector.
King added that upon the successful scaling up of these projects to full production, the country will be able to expand global critical minerals supply chains and facilitate its transition toward low-emissions technology.
The Oceania country has widespread reserves of critical minerals, such as rare earths and lithium, which are used in the development of lasers, satellites, and batteries for electric vehicles. They are also essential for clean energy and smart technology, but not easy to mine, process, and market, making it challenging for developers to get funding.
This funding by the Labor government follows AUD$2.5 billion ($1.7 billion) worth of loans and funding commitments that were announced by the previous conservative coalition before the federal elections were held in May.
As per King, companies receiving funds under the grant include Lava Blue and Mineral Commodities Ltd, Global Advanced Metals Pty Ltd, EQ Resources Ltd, Cobalt Blue Holdings Ltd, and Alpha HPA Ltd.
Meanwhile, cobalt development and energy storage firm Cobalt Blue, and aluminum extraction and processing firm Alpha HPA will each be getting around AUD$15 million ($10 million) for setting up a cobalt project and an ultra-pure aluminum chemical plant, respectively, for producing materials for EV batteries.
Some of the other projects that will be undertaken include the reactivation of an open pit to mine tungsten, an EV battery-grade graphite business, and a tantalum recovery plant.