Australian Critical Minerals Companies: Government Budget Too Low to Compete

by | 10. May 2023 - 11:52 | Economy

Industry leaders push the Albanese government to increase its support for the sector.

The Australian government under Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced its budget for energy security and low carbon future on Tuesday. The budget contains $57.1 million over four years to promote international critical minerals partnerships. A further $23.4 million will be allocated over the next four years to the Critical Minerals Office to advance policies, programs, and international engagement. The budget announcement comes ahead of Resource Minister Madeleine King announcing a dedicated critical minerals strategy which is expected to focus mainly on domestic production and refining of critical minerals.

Mineral Resources managing director Chris Ellison argues that the Albanese government’s budget neglects the urgency of the critical minerals sector and neglects the possibilities of creating jobs and economic value while reducing the dependency on other countries. Ellison argues that without a substantial increase in government support for the sector, the international competition will be at a significant advantage, saying on Wednesday: “While governments around the world are racing to grow the battery supply chain, the Australian government is telling the industry to go it alone.” These comments hint at King’s works on a critical minerals strategy.

Australia’s resources present opportunities but efforts must be taken

Tania Constable, the chief executive officer of the Mineral Council of Australia, the biggest mineral industry association in Australia, echoed these concerns, asserting that Australia must increase its competitiveness to not lose out to other resource-rich countries, like China. Australia has the chance to become a market leader in the global critical minerals industry with vast resources of lithium, rare earth elements, and other critical minerals but must take the necessary steps.

The Australian government is despite concerns by the industry determined to accelerate the growth of its minerals sector: Last year the government in Canberra provided Iluka Resources with a $1.25 billion loan for its Eneabba rare earths refinery project. Managing director Tom O’Leary commended the government for the loan in a speech at the company’s annual general meeting on Wednesday and again highlighted the opportunities the critical minerals sector presents for Australia. He, therefore, urged policymakers to expand their efforts.

Photo: iStock/Maksym Isachenko

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