This page belongs to: Critical Minerals Strategy 2023–2030

2. Attracting investment and building international partnerships

Increased investment from and collaboration with likeminded partners to grow Australia’s downstream processing capability and build diverse, resilient and sustainable global supply chains.

Why action is needed

Australia cannot achieve its critical minerals objectives alone. Foreign investment has always been critical to Australia’s prosperity. It helps drive economic growth, creates skilled jobs, improves access to overseas markets and enhances productivity.

We have established bilateral partnerships with likeminded partners to work together to build diverse, resilient and sustainable global supply chains. Australia also plays a leadership role in multilateral forums where critical minerals supply chains, standards and strategic issues are discussed. Our international engagement focuses on facilitating investment, R&D collaboration and ESG standards. We also engage actively with partners to ensure our regulatory frameworks, standards and trade and investment rules are consistent and mutually beneficial.

The long-term sustainable development of the Australian critical minerals sector is dependent on Australian projects securing offtake and equity agreements with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and industry end users. Government-to-government agreements can build investor confidence and help private sector partnerships develop and scale up quickly.

To take advantage of our globally significant endowments of critical minerals, Australia must leverage international partnerships and foreign investment to attract capital, IP and proven technologies, encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing between industry, and grow a resilient, sustainable and globally competitive Australian critical minerals sector. Foreign investment ensures Australian companies are competitive in the global market and strong governance standards ensure Australia continues to be regarded as a preferred, reliable and trusted partner.

Concentrated critical minerals markets lead to volatile and fragile supply chains, which work against the public interest and hamper growth of the global industry. The Government will use policy tools to help diversify global supply chains, particularly where this will link Australian projects into the markets of our allies and partners.

Current bilateral agreements and multilateral partnerships are outlined in Appendix A.

'Australian Government leadership in international trade coupled with supply chain coordination will build resilient and diverse supply chains while accelerating the development of Australian critical mineral companies through identification and engagement of international partners.'

– Academic policy expert

'Building reliable, competitive and diverse supply chains and strategic partnerships to attract investment cannot be viewed in isolation from our climate commitments, the global net zero transition and the role Australia can play in helping international partners achieve their emissions reduction targets.'

– Environment organisation

What we are already doing

Through the Critical Minerals Office, DFAT, Austrade, and Export Finance Australia, the Government has established commercial and strategic partnerships with likeminded governments and businesses. This includes through:

  • working actively with Australian projects proponents to identify targeted sources of commercial investment to develop their projects
  • leading business missions for Australian projects to target markets to connect them with international sources of offtake and equity  
  • establishing bilateral strategic cooperation mechanisms to align policies, deepen technical collaboration and improve access to finance
  • taking leadership roles in multilateral forums and initiatives to shape emerging market rules and norms for critical minerals
  • supporting export credit agencies to explore joint financing for Australian projects
  • publishing guides to inform and attract investment.

Australia has a number of trade agreements with a range of international partners to provide Australian exporters, producers and investors with excellent access to international markets, and ensure we can contribute to building diversified supply chains.

For example, Australia is uniquely positioned to capitalise on the economic opportunities from the US Inflation Reduction Act through our FTA partner status and natural endowments of critical minerals. Not only will this enhance Australia’s reputation as a preferred, reliable and trusted partner, it will also allow us to build diversified and resilient global clean energy supply chains.

Furthermore, in May 2023, the Australian and US governments committed to establish climate, critical minerals and clean energy as a central pillar of the Australia-United States Alliance through the Australia–US Climate, Critical Minerals, and Clean Energy Transformation Compact. Underscoring the central role of critical minerals in the clean energy transformation, the Compact establishes a ministerial-level Taskforce on Critical Minerals between Australia and the US, spearheaded by the Commonwealth Minister for Resources and the US National Security Council. The Minister for Resources will work with industry leaders and counterparts in the US to develop and expand reliable, responsible, and secure global access to critical minerals.

The Taskforce will engage key stakeholders across industry and relevant government agencies and financing bodies, to develop reliable, responsible and secure access to critical minerals. The Taskforce will also support industry to create reliable end-to-end supply chains that address to the growing demand of US manufacturers (including automakers), including under the Inflation Reduction Act

Australia is also progressing negotiations with the EU to establish a free trade agreement, and with India on a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, both of which will consider critical minerals. Negotiations on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework also includes supply chain resilience, clean energy and decarbonisation.

Critical Minerals International Partnerships program

The Government is investing $57.1 million to secure strategic and commercial partnerships to develop new, diverse and resilient supply chains underpinned by critical minerals processed in Australia.

Under this initiative, $40 million in grants is available to support:

  • co-investment between Australia and like-minded international partners
  • critical minerals projects that can help develop end-to-end critical minerals supply chains between Australia and partner countries.

In addition to the grants program, the Government is investing:

  • $6.65 million to increase global critical minerals engagement, which includes detailed analysis for strategic projects to help link our supply chains
  • $6.7 million to help Austrade boost international engagement on critical minerals.

The 2023–24 Budget also includes $2.2 million over four years for the Treasury to develop more sophisticated ways to track foreign investment patterns in Australia’s critical minerals sector. This will ensure foreign investment does not conflict with our national interest or national security. It will inform decision making under the foreign investment framework.

Increasing our understanding of investment patterns will also inform strategies to diversify supply chains and attract investment in downstream processing and manufacturing industries.

Austrade publishes the Australian Critical Minerals Prospectus with the help of Australia’s geoscience agencies. The prospectus supports the significant efforts already underway to attract investment in Australia’s critical minerals projects. The fourth edition of the prospectus, published in December 2022, highlights 55 advanced projects seeking investment or offtake agreements.

What we will do

The fastest and most efficient way to build our downstream capability and get Australian projects into international supply chains is through investment from like-minded countries and global companies. Attracting international investment and offtake arrangements will help Australian projects access key markets and make the sector commercially viable.

Key actions

  • Work with likeminded partners to attract and leverage foreign investment and diversify supply chains. This includes co-investing through our financing agencies and establishing joint projects under the new Critical Minerals International Partnerships program.
  • Take leadership roles in key multilateral forums to shape emerging market rules and norms, including embedding high ESG standards in the global market.
  • Track and monitor foreign investment in Australian critical minerals projects to ensure it is not counter to Australia’s national interest.

Updates to this page

This page was updated on 7 July 2023 to clarify the funding available under the Critical Minerals International Partnerships program.