13/02/2019 - 12:24

CRC funding prioritises 'critical' minerals

13/02/2019 - 12:24

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The federal government’s latest research funding round will focus on minerals including lithium, cobalt and titanium in an effort to boost Australia’s resources sector.

Karen Andrews says the government wants to make sure Australia doesn't just export minerals but can add value to promote growth in other sectors of the economy.

The federal government’s latest research funding round will focus on minerals including lithium, cobalt and titanium in an effort to boost Australia’s resources sector.

The government considered these materials to be critical minerals because there could be economic or strategic issues if they were affected by supply disruptions.

Funding applications related to critical minerals will be prioritised under round seven of the Cooperative Research Centres Project grants.

More than $20 million worth of funding will be available, with grants of up to $3 million over a maximum period of three years.

While the government is focusing on critical minerals, the round is open to all industry sectors.

Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said the government wanted to make sure Australia didn’t just export minerals, but could add value to promote growth in other sectors of the economy.

“We want to grow the market here in Australia and, to use the lithium example, lithium is projected to grow to about a $1.1 billion export by 2020 and globally, the demand is likely to triple by 2027,” she said.

“Australia needs and wants to be part of that market but we importantly, want to make sure that we are value adding so that it's not just digging these minerals up out of the ground, putting them on a ship and sending them overseas; it's actually building the tech sector here in Australia, growing our economy, making sure that we're looking after jobs not only in the mining sector but more broadly in research, in production and in manufacturing.

“This is a great opportunity for industry-led projects; we're looking at industry taking the lead, particularly small and medium enterprises working with research institutions to deliver real outcomes in critical minerals here for Australia.”

Association of Mining & Exploration Companies chief executive Warren Pearce said the association had been calling for stronger investment support from government and it was pleasing to see the government recognising the significant contribution the critical minerals could make to the economy.

“We have seen the positive impacts of CRC-funded research on our economy and in other industries, and this funding will be critical for helping to position Australia as leaders in technology and industry, particularly in the downstream battery minerals space,” he said.

“Australia is excellently placed to take advantage of the battery minerals opportunity and its connection to the new fast growing battery and electric vehicle industry.

"Funding for research will help support this rapidly expanding sector and secure Australia’s position as battery industry leaders which will assist greatly in attracting further investment.”

Funding applications close on March 28 2019 with the outcome expected to be announced in June 2019.

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