Australia unveils critical minerals roadmap to challenge China’s processing dominance

Australia’s government has unveiled a 10-year roadmap that will boost the nation’s mineral processing capacity, as part of a plan to challenge China’s position as the world’s top supplier of products key to the clean energy transition.

The Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Processing Roadmap includes US$1 billion of funding to help businesses capitalise on Australia’s abundant natural resources, ramp up production and commercialise products – such as lithium-ion batteries and solar cells – for global supply chains.

Australia is the world’s top lithium exporter and a major source of rare earths – a collection of minerals that are essential components in a range of clean tech products. China currently dominates supply of rare earth elements.

The move to develop Australia’s domestic production and processing capacity for rare earths and other critical minerals comes as fears grow around China curtailing future supply, amid deteriorating diplomatic relations with Australia and other industrialised nations.

“It’s a sovereign and strategic priority for Australia to ensure that we are hard-wired into this supply chain around the world,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a media briefing following the announcement.

“[It has to be] a supply chain that Australia and our partners can rely on, because these rare earths and critical minerals are what pull together the technology that we will be relying on into the future,” he said.