Expanding our international partnerships in the resources technology industry will be a vital path to ensure manufactures are able to scale-up. An industry survey recently revealed that 65% of METS firms in Australia export goods and services and generate, on average, 25% of revenue from exports. The top 8 markets (in order) for Australian METS exports are:
- the United States
- Papua New Guinea
- New Zealand
- South Africa
The survey also indicated that a third of companies who do not currently export today intend to in the next 2 years, with Chile, Canada, the US and Indonesia as focus markets.
Establishing new and expanding existing international partnerships is an important priority to build Australia’s reputation as a regional hub for critical minerals processing and a resources technology manufacturing industry. For critical minerals processing, establishing new partnerships is critical to attract the capital and skills needed to allow manufactures to move up the value-chain.
The Australian Government is working to establish and expand key international partnerships to help create demand for Australian processed critical minerals products and strengthen global markets. Developing and diversifying critical mineral supply chains requires a highly integrated approach to trade and investment activities, with governments playing an essential role to align supply and demand signals and establish alternate supply chains. On the demand-side this requires foreign governments, large-scale end-users and original equipment manufacturers to either be involved:
- directly in securing alternate critical minerals supply
- indirectly by imposing procurement requirements that prioritise security and other criteria such as ethical and environmental considerations, over low cost.
Three main areas of focus include:
- encouraging strategic partners to sign long-term offtake contracts with Australian proponents
- working with international partners to develop integrated end-to-end supply chains
- developing international standards to ensure a level-playing field for Australian producers.
The Australian Government with Standards Australia has also developed a proposal for a new ISO standardisation area to ensure a more holistic approach to developing technical standards for critical minerals. The need for ethical certification and good standards for the industry is partly driven by increasing ESG awareness amongst end-users and emerging market requirements. The Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre is funding a suite of R&D to establish technical competencies. These will create market advantage for Australian critical mineral firms that are required to comply with international ethical certification schemes. Establishing capabilities to comply with international ethical certification schemes is part of Government’s comprehensive strategy to:
- open up market access, particularly to EU members
- offer assurance to customers that they are using ethically and responsibly sourced materials in their manufacturing processes
- demonstrate the high standards that Australian projects already meet
- level the playing field for all producers by having a high standard across the industry.
This road map has been developed in collaboration with industry. It outlines a 10 year vision, and a range of barriers and opportunities to achieve scale in manufacturing in the resources technology and critical minerals processing sector.
Implementing these actions will require ongoing engagement between all levels of government and industry. The Government is committed to implementing a collaborative and integrated approach to growing the resources technology and critical minerals processing sector.
Supporting greater levels of collaboration between government, businesses, venture capitalists, industry experts and researchers will ensure Australia realises the benefits of innovation, harnesses our world-class research capabilities and translates our great ideas into commercial outcomes. Businesses are more likely to grow and attract investment when they are supported by a thriving business environment. The Government is focusing its investment on projects that will:
- create collaborative environments
- encourage the market to invest
- facilitate collaboration between business, research organisations and state and territory governments.
By developing these road maps the Government is ensuring science and technology work for industry by fostering the environment needed to improve collaboration to support the resources technology and critical minerals processing sector. Through strong collaboration across industries and between government and the private sector, we will help to create the pathway forward for the manufacturing sector to leverage economies of scale, share knowledge and drive innovation. By working together, Australia will become a global centre for commercialising and manufacturing resources technology, creating an ecosystem of innovative companies producing cutting-edge technology products and services for the global resources sector that benefit a range of other Australian industries.