Mining ready to ride biggest boom with $2t up for grabs

Some $2 trillion has been unleased for a low-carbon economy under United States laws, with Australia set to get access to tax breaks as a trusted and sustainable source of critical minerals.

US Consul General Siriana Nair said on Wednesday the world’s energy transition cannot happen without Australia’s resources sector.

The freshly inked climate and energy partnership will increase investment in both countries, Ms Nair told the AFR Mining Summit in Perth.

“Australia is uniquely positioned to be a supplier of choice for us and global manufacturers,” she said.

Demand for critical minerals will skyrocket in coming decades and for minerals such as lithium and graphite that are used in electric vehicle batteries, demand will increase by as much as 4000 per cent, she said.

An unprecedented $2 trillion has been allocated under various US laws to support investment in research and development, adopting clean energy and new vehicles, new infrastructure and supply chain security, she said.

Seeking to break China’s stranglehold on the global supply of factory-ready minerals, the US laws define a critical mineral as a mineral essential to economic or national security and which has a supply chain vulnerable to disruption.

She said Australia, and particularly Western Australia, has the technological know-how and high environmental and labour standards needed to bring these minerals to market in a sustainable way.

“And America stands with you,” Ms Nair said.

The new Australia-US forum on clean energy and industrial transformation will give local industry a seat at the table to secure vital supply chains for minerals and defence industries – for processing and refining as well as raw materials.

“Just as important as having the resources is extracting them in a sustainable manner,” the diplomat said.

A global survey released to coincide with the summit shows mining leaders are confident they can profit from the clean energy boom and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“One of the reasons mining and metals executives are confident about the future is that they regard decarbonisation plans as a growth opportunity not just as a cost of doing business,” KPMG global mining leader Trevor Hart said.

Of those in clean energy minerals, more than half (53 per cent) are confident and more than one-quarter (26 per cent) are very confident they can meet surging demand, the KPMG survey found.

More than half (55 per cent) are confident and 24 per cent are very confident the mining and metals industry can reconcile growth with achieving sustainability and net-zero objectives.

Technological changes are the most important factor in the five-year plans of executives surveyed, including advances in exploration and extraction technology, artificial intelligence, 5G networks, and internet of things (IoT).

These are the technologies that are expected to have the most impact on mineral supplies, cost savings and reducing the carbon footprint of operations.

Improving energy efficiency was the highest priority for tackling the environmental challenges from mining and metals processing.


Marion Rae
(Australian Associated Press)


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