Nickel placed on critical minerals list

Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King has placed nickel on the Critical Minerals List, giving nickel companies opportunity to access billions of dollars in Commonwealth funding. 

The Commonwealth Resources Minister has the discretion to review the Critical Minerals List at any time, and to make interim amendments if there are significant changes to technology, trade, domestic capacity or geopolitical developments.

Since the List was updated on 16 December 2023, six operating nickel facilities have either announced reduction in operations or gone into care and maintenance. 

The decision to place nickel on the list means companies will have access to financing under the $4 billion Critical Minerals Facility and critical minerals–related grant programs such as the International Partnerships Program ($40 million).

A strong resources industry is central to a strong Australian economy.

The road to net zero runs through the resources sector. Minerals such as nickel are essential to the energy transition. 

Minister King said the nickel industry faces substantial structural challenges that cannot be addressed overnight. 

“The international nickel price is forecast to stay relatively low through 2024, and likely for several years to come until the surplus of nickel in the market is corrected,” Minister King said. 

“In the meantime, this puts further Australian nickel operations at risk.

“Given impacts to our domestic capacity and noting the broader market developments presently unfolding in the nickel sector, I am fully convinced that we must be proactive in addressing the recent developments, including by adding nickel to the Critical Minerals List.”

Australian nickel resources are produced to high environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, meaning Australia offers more sustainable and ethical critical minerals than many of our competitors. 

Australia is a world leader in conditions and protections afforded to workers and a leader in worker safety.

Minister King said she had been progressing important discussions with international counterparts in US, Canada and EU to ensure the high standards applied in Australian mining and production of nickel and other critical minerals are reflected in future pricing on international markets. 

Australian nickel producers must be able to compete fairly in international markets. We are determined to make this happen. 

When the playing field is fair, Australian resources stand a fair chance.