Boost for critical minerals and rare earths research

The Australian Government is investing almost $22 million in three key research projects which will support the growth of Australia’s critical minerals industry and help supply materials which will be crucial to lowering carbon emissions.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King said funding has been awarded to innovative research projects to members of the Critical Minerals Research and Development Hub – the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), CSIRO and Geoscience Australia.

“These new research projects will support Australia’s Critical Minerals Strategy and our ambition for Australia to be a global clean energy supplier,” Minister King said.

“The path to net zero by 2050 runs through Australia’s resources sector. The new research will help Australia further develop critical minerals and rare earths processes and encourage downstream processing to produce components for clean technologies.”

ANSTO has been awarded $13.9 million for a research project to accelerate the discovery, extraction and processing of rare earth elements from lower grade deposits.

CSIRO has been awarded $5.2 million to develop intellectual property and knowhow to support downstream industries to produce high purity metals and materials, extending value chains for lithium, rare earths and supporting value adding to tungsten ores and refractory metals.

Geoscience Australia has been awarded $2.7 million for research into development opportunities of a domestic industry for critical minerals such as gallium, germanium and indium, which are often by-products from processing primary commodities such as bauxite and zinc.

Critical minerals and rare earths are crucial components of clean energy technologies such as storage batteries, electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines, and are also important for defence and medical technologies.

The Critical Minerals Research and Development Hub was announced in the October 2022 Budget as an initiative to help unlock Australia’s critical minerals potential.