Resources statement promotes future minerals exploration in Australia

By Melissa Coade

Sunday June 6, 2021

(Image: Adobe/Jackie Davies)

A new global resources statement published by the federal government has flagged expansion opportunities for critical minerals exploration in Australia, touting the sector as sophisticated and one of the most technologically advanced in the world. 

According to a new document published by the federal government on Thursday, opportunities abound to further expand local critical minerals exploration. 

In the foreword of the statement, resources and water minister Keith Pitt said Australia was ready to supply new markets interested in downstream processing for emerging technology products that rely on critical minerals and energy sources such as hydrogen.

“Australia has world-class operations, vast resources, established supply chains, and a Government committed to supporting further investment, exploration and production,” Pitt said.

The 34-page statement kicks off the government’s $20.1 million plan to expand local markets and strengthen the Australian resources and energy sectors, declaring the country a leading exporter of iron ore, gold, coal and LNG production exports. 

The strategy to ‘position the nation’s resources sector as a reliable, responsible and ready for the future investment destination’ was announced in the federal budget in May. It commits $20.1 million over two years to deliver the plan. 

Pitt said the statement document outlined opportunities for the resources and energies sectors as market demand for major commodities and new energies technologies bounced back from the COVID-19 downturn.

“Australia’s resources exports have broken records over the past two years and are forecast to top $296 billion in 2020-21, despite a pandemic that has slowed global growth,” Pitt said. 

“The global resources statement is an important first step in delivering the government’s Global Resources Strategy, and I would like to offer this document to our trading partners to consider Australia as a reliable, responsible and ready partner for the future.”

The document itself describes the strategy as a whole-of-government response to making Australia resilient to trade shocks such as those felt because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also describes how Australia is ‘taking advantage of new opportunities’ borne from  low emissions technologies, such as hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS).

The minister also noted that being on Asia’s doorstep effectively made Australia the ‘supplier of choice in ever-expanding global supply chains’. The statement further explains that because Australia is situated close to other growing markets in the Indo-Pacific, suppliers have the advantage of ‘lower transport costs and shorter timeframes’ to service these markets.

Australia’s major commodity exports in 2020 (A$m) by export destination
Australia’s major commodity exports in 2020 (A$m) by export destination

Pitt said that a combination of Australia’s geographic position in the region, technological development to boost mine operations, and standards for `sustainable resource management’ and mine safety made the country a ‘low risk environment’ to invest and do business.

“Global demand for energy and mineral resources is projected to grow over the coming decades, driven by growing populations and fast-developing economies in our region,” Pitt said.

“This global resources statement promotes Australia’s strong resources credentials. Australia is a reliable, responsible and ready partner for resources exploration, investment and supply.”

The statement also suggests that one of the leading reasons for global resource investors to come to Australia is because of the money the federal government has put into world-leading research and industry-led growth centres. This includes financial backing for the Australian Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) sector via METS Ignited.

“The government has invested in world-leading geoscience institutions, cooperative research centres and industry-led growth centres. This will enable the sector to remain a global leader as a reliable supplier and innovative player for the future,” Pitt said. 

“The government supports Australia’s highly-skilled and innovative resource workers through targeted educational programs, ensuring our workers have the diverse and complex skills that new advanced technologies in the sector require.”

Last year foreign investment in Australia increased by $97.1 billion. The mining and quarrying industries were the top industries to attract foreign direct investment totalling $3,990.9 billion in 2020.

A chart showing Foreign Direct Investment in Australia in 2019 by sector. The mining and quarrying sectors make up over a quarter of all FDI.
Foreign Direct Investment in Australia in 2019 by sector

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