28/09/2021 - 13:06

Feds offer $2bn for critical minerals

28/09/2021 - 13:06

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The critical minerals sector will become the latest to receive a special concessional loan deal from the federal government, with $2 billion on the line.

Scott Morrison was in Perth in April. Photo: David Henry

The critical minerals sector will become the latest to receive a special concessional loan deal from the federal government, with $2 billion on the line.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced a $2 billion loan facility for critical minerals projects, to be managed by Export Finance Australia.

It adds to a growing number of government financing programs, including the Northern Australian Infrastructure Fund, Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation.

NAIF in particular has been used to fund critical minerals projects, including a $200 million concessional loan for the Strandline Resources Coburn heavy mineral sands project in Western Australia.

Then there are industry funds such as the Modern Manufacturing Initiative, a $1.5 billion program which features critical minerals processing as a key target.

Critical minerals include those used in technology and defence applications, such as rare earths, lithium and cobalt.

Numerous projects have already got off the ground in Western Australia, including two lithium refineries under construction and work by BHP Nickel West to sell its product into battery markets.

“The commercial dimensions of the critical minerals market mean it is a difficult place to get established,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. 

“We want to ensure that Australia’s resources producers do get established so they can link up with others in our supply chains in a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“Critical minerals are a strategic area for governments too because they are fundamental to the future energy economy.”

The Association of Mining & Exploration Companies welcomed the announcement and said it had been calling on the government to prioritise the sector.

“We are very pleased with this announcement as it shows that the Government is serious about developing this capability and building this industry here in Australia,” AMEC chief executive Warren Pearce said.

“It will help develop critical mineral projects needed to supply the demand from emerging technologies, Australia’s export partners and to provide the minerals needed for the rapidly growing renewable energy industry.”

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