Update from Jessica Robinson, Critical Minerals Facilitation Office: March 2020

Progress on international engagement with Japan, United States and Canada on critical minerals, including strengthening rare earths supply chains.
Photo of Australian and Canadian government officials at the signing.

Australian and Canadian government officials at the Prospectors and Developers Association Convention in Canada, where they signed an agreement between Geoscience Australia and the Geological Survey of Canada.

We launched the Critical Minerals Facilitation Office on 18 January 2020. It's been a busy couple of months!

People across the critical minerals sector have contacted us about projects and opportunities. We are developing a rich picture of the range of activities underway. In February and March I travelled to Japan, Canada and the United States.

Here are some highlights.

Working with Japan to strengthen rare earths supply chains

In February, we participated in the Japan-Australia Energy and Resources Dialogue in Japan. Critical Minerals was a key topic of discussion and built on joint ministerial commitments made at the earlier Japan and Australia Economic Dialogue in Melbourne.

Both governments committed to undertake practical action to help diversify critical minerals supply chains, with particular priority around strengthening rare earths supply chains.

Japanese officials will travel to Australia to progress these initiatives when current travel restrictions are lifted. We will provide further updates on this in due course.

Progressing critical minerals in the US and Canada

We led the Australian delegation to Washington in February to progress the joint US-Australia Action Plan on Critical Minerals. The delegation included Geoscience Australia, CSIRO, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Defence, and Austrade. Discussions with US counterparts identified key action areas:

  • ensuring a sufficient critical minerals supply to meet projected demand
  • strengthening two-way trade and investment
  • encouraging research and development
  • options to improve resource development

The action plan will prioritise and drive collaborative action between Australia and the US. This will improve security of supply for critical mineral supply chains. Essential for Defence applications and advanced technologies.

Roundtable with Canada

In Ottawa we shared our respective critical mineral strategies during a full day roundtable with Canadian counterpart agencies. Potential areas for further collaboration include enhancing resource identification and development (given our similar geological history).

Meetings with US stakeholders

While in Washington, we met with a range of important stakeholders to progress our critical minerals strategy. These included:

  • US government funding mechanisms Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) and US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)
  • Defence primes
  • US geological and science agencies

Takeaways from the Prospectors and Developers Association Convention in Canada

Launching the Energy Resource Governance Initiative

The US, Canada, Australia, Peru and Botswana are founding members of the Energy Resource Governance Initiative, which will:

  • help lift global mining standards
  • drive greater transparency and improve governance frameworks,
  • as a consequence also level the playing field

Collaborating with Canada

Geoscience Australia signed an agreement with the Geological Survey of Canada. Under the agreement our countries will:

  • work together to better understand our respective geological resource potential
  • undertake collaborative research to form a common understanding of critical minerals

Need for sustainable methods

The conference had a sharp focus on critical minerals, in particular the:

  • important role many of these minerals play in low emission and renewable energy technologies
  • need to develop more efficient, sustainable and environmentally-friendly methods for extracting and processing these minerals to meet projected demand

Showcasing Australia’s world-class minerals potential

Australian companies and jurisdictions presented at the Australia Minerals event. The strength of Australian projects and strategies will deliver efficient, sustainable and environmentally responsible sources of supply.

Thank you to everyone who has been in contact with us. We have received some useful insights into projects, research and resources from around Australia. We look forward to continuing our work with you.

Jessica Robinson
Head, Critical Minerals Facilitation Office

Read more

Connect with us