Critical minerals industry gets C$460-million boost . . .
Australia announced C$460 million in funding to “supercharge” its critical minerals manufacturing yesterday. On top of commercializing government research and bringing new companies to market, the funding targets several downstream processing projects for nickel-manganese-cobalt, vanadium, high-purity manganese, and rare earths in Western Australia. Such minerals are used in smartphones, computers, rechargeable batteries, solar panels, electric vehicles, and defence technology, rendering them vital to the modern global economy. Australia produces half the world’s lithium and is the second-largest cobalt producer and the fourth-largest producer of rare earths.
Latest development in Beijing-Canberra tiff . . .
The announcement represents the latest development in the Beijing-Canberra diplomatic tiff. By supercharging its critical minerals sector, Australia aims to improve supply chain security for its allies and offset Chinese market dominance. “China currently dominates around 70 to 80 per cent of global critical minerals production and continues to consolidate its hold over these supply chains,” said Angus Taylor, Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction. “This initiative is designed to address that dominance.” The move aligns with the Quad’s partnership to secure supply chains for rare earths first announced last September for the same reason. The Quad nations will co-operate to fund new production technologies and development projects and co-ordinate financial institutions to provide loans to the mining and refining sector. Just last Friday, Australia and India announced a C$7.4-million, three-year Critical Minerals Investment Partnership.
Canada also vying for global critical minerals leadership . . .
Canada also intends to become a “world leader” in critical minerals and battery production, sharing many of Australia’s national security motivations. Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec have implemented initiatives to this end, with Ontario announcing a new C$29-million strategy just this morning, though it has faced Indigenous opposition in the northern part of the province. Meanwhile, Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne has been tasked with modernizing the Investment Canada Act to protect the sector and “mitigate economic security threats from foreign investment.” This builds on a Canada-U.S. critical minerals partnership first announced in 2020 and last year’s updated guidelines on national security reviews for investments, which to date have mostly involved Chinese investors.
- The Globe and Mail: Trudeau presses for Canada to become a critical mineral powerhouse
- Nikkei Asia: Australia unveils $360m for critical minerals to offset China
- The Sydney Morning Herald: Quad leaders unite to weaken Chinese dominance over rare-earth minerals