Last week, the Australian Federal Government released its “Critical Minerals Strategy 2019” – a blueprint aimed at positioning “Australia as a leading global supplier of the minerals that will underpin the industries of the future” – which according to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Sciences’s press release, includes the agritech, aerospace, defence, renewable energy and telecommunications industries.
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said that some of the “world’s richest stocks of critical minerals” are located in Australia, and argued that “while the market for some of our minerals such as lithium is relatively mature, other minerals markets such as cobalt remain largely underdeveloped in Australia” – which is why “a key part of this strategy is about how industry and government agencies such as Austrade can work together to promote our potential to the world to attract more international investment, particularly in downstream projects and greenfield opportunities.”
According to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science,
“The strategy forms part of the Government’s broader plan for Australia’s resources sector, outlined in the recently released National Resources Statement.
It builds on Geoscience Australia’s Critical Minerals Report and will soon be followed by Austrade’s Critical Minerals Prospectus.”
Australia means business. Quite literally.
Meanwhile, in the United States, there were indications that policy makers were finally realizing the need for a comprehensive mineral resource strategy, with several promising first steps towards alleviating our nation’s over-reliance on foreign mineral resources. As followers of ARPN will know, we saw some incremental progress in 2018, including the release of the Department of the Interior’s list of 35 minerals deemed critical from both an economic and national security perspective — but we are still awaiting further steps, including the release of the long-overdue report by the Department of Commerce subsequent to the 2017 presidential executive order on critical minerals, outlining a “broader strategy” and recommending specific policy steps to implement it.
Perhaps the fact that Australia – a nation that ARPN and other proponents of mining policy reforms have been pointing to – is taking additional steps to bolster its position as a “world leader in the exploration, extraction, production and processing of critical minerals,” will provide fresh impetus for reform at home.