Address to Minerals Week Breakfast


I wish to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

I would also like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of land right around the country, and especially those lands from which the minerals and resources we are talking about today emerge. 

I extend that respect to First Nations people in the audience today.

Thank you to the Minerals Council of Australia – and chief executive Tania Constable – for this opportunity to again be part of Minerals Week.

And can I thank the MCA and the resources industry for its strong support for the campaign to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution.

Resources companies across Australia have been working with and listening to First Nations people for many decades. 

They are leaders in engagement with Aboriginal people and in the employment of Aboriginal people. 

This has helped make our resources sector strong.

We know that when we listen we get better results 

So I would urge to you continue your support for this change and vote yes in the referendum on October 14. 

I would like to also welcome our two esteemed guests here today.

His Excellency Mr Wan-joong Kim, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Australia – and His Excellency Mr Manpreet Vohra, High Commissioner of India to Australia.

I was delighted to accompany the Prime Minister on his visit to Mumbai and New Delhi earlier this year and the High Commissioner joined us for many of the activities and I thank him for his generous assistance. 

I look forward to visiting the Republic of Korea and acknowledge the investments and partnerships Korea has forged with the Australian resources sector over many decades. 

Resources and the future

We come here every year to talk about the importance of the resources industry to Australia’s economy. 

Everyone here in this room knows that last year was a record year for Australia’s resources and minerals sector.

This would not be a surprise to any of you. 

Exports led by coal, iron ore, gold, aluminium, and gas – were tracking to reach a record $459 billion.

We have tens of billions of dollars’ worth of projects in the development pipeline.

The resources sector now directly employs more than 300,000 people across the country.

Our coal industry in New South Wales and Queensland employs around 42,000 people.

In Western Australia, iron ore and other metal ore mining directly employs over 84,000 people. 

And Australia’s oil and gas extraction industry directly employs 22,000 people.

Mining’s status as the top contributor to Australia’s economy remains unrivalled. 

But the importance of the industry to our high standard of living and way of life often remains overlooked.

As I have been saying since I was sworn in as Minister, we have a lot of work to do in better telling the story of this industry. 

I know you have all been making efforts in this regard. To explain to the broader public of the importance of the resources sector to our way of life. 

I commend for example Seven West Media’s Resources Technology Showcase in Perth, which brings Caterpillar haul packs to the Perth CBD for kids to climb over. 

Of course, you can’t take your kids to an iron ore mine so it’s a terrific opportunity for parents to be able to show their families some of the remarkable machinery they work with. 

And your slogan – Before it was yours, it was mined


I’m stealing that. 

But we need to do more. We need to reach those young people who we want to take up careers in geology, metallurgy, chemistry and engineering.

We need Australians to know this story is far bigger than one of economics and gross domestic product.

We must explain how this industry is at the heart of the fight against climate change.

And we must explain how mining is of growing importance to the strategic and security needs of this country and to those of our allies and partners.

I am very proud of this industry.

I spend a lot of time talking to anyone who will listen about  how important it is to our nation; and to our regional neighbours and how this has been the case for a considerable time. 

As the Prime Minister said on Monday night, there are matters on which we will disagree, but more often I hope to agree and work together -  always in the national interest and the interest of the Australian community, Australian workers and the Australian minerals and resources industry.

I understand you will campaign for your position, and I don’t object to that. 

I do think however that consideration should be given to the industry putting more effort into explaining this industry’s critical role in the keeping our economy strong and in reaching our net zero goals. 

Minerals Strategy and international strategic mineral partnerships

Critical minerals are an incredible opportunity for Australia, but to grasp it we must work together. 

Government and industry have worked together before to create the coal and iron ore and gas industries that are now this nation’s largest exports.

Critical minerals should be next.  

As the Intergenerational Report released last month noted, Global demand of critical minerals will need to increase by around 350 per cent by 2040 for the world to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The Albanese Government is seizing on the opportunities presented by critical minerals to create jobs, economic opportunity, and prosperity across the country. 

In June, I released Australia’s new Critical Minerals Strategy.

This sets out a vision to 2030 to grow our critical minerals sector.   

The Strategy identifies where the Government can be most effective – as well as fiscally responsible – at enabling future growth across the sector.

We are focussing on getting our policy settings right and leveraging our strategic advantages. 

These strategic advantages start with our unique geology that underpins everything. 

And I acknowledge the work of Geoscience Australia and state geological surveys that over many years have helped us to know what we are made of. 

After geology we have geography. 

We are an island continent that sits in the Indo Pacific, neighbouring some of the fastest growing economies on the face of the earth, who are wanting energy security and to enjoy the standard of living we ourselves have long taken for granted. 

And there is the unique nature of the Australian mineral resources industry itself. 

This industry is extraordinarily innovative. 

It embraces science and research, including remarkable advances in automation which deliver worker safety and efficiencies in bringing commodities to market but also the monitoring of facilities for maintenance, safety and for environmental purposes. 

This industry enables opportunities for upskilling like few others.

Workers can start as a truck driver and progress to management. 

My nephew Jacob stared out as a catering worker and now drives an iron ore truck in the Pilbara.

New skills, new opportunities. This is what the resources sector brings.  

So what can the Government do to support the industry to grow a new resources and processing industry? 

International strategic minerals partnerships

One of the most important elements of building our critical minerals industry is international collaboration and partnership-building.

We can’t outspend larger economies. But we can leverage growth through partnerships with our friends and allies. 

Earlier this year, the Prime Minister and President Biden signed the Australia-United States Climate, Critical Minerals, and Clean Energy Transformation Compact. 

The Compact is a historic step in our bilateral work with the US to build reliable and sustainable clean energy supply chains. 

Under the Compact, both countries agreed to establish the ministerial-level Australia-United States Taskforce on Critical Minerals, which I will lead for Australia.  

The Taskforce will accelerate and expand development of critical minerals and clean energy technologies and foster greater integration of responsible clean energy supply chains.

I signed a new Australia-Japan Critical Minerals Partnership to establish a framework for building secure critical mineral supply chains between Australia and Japan.

The partnerships we have forged with the Republic of Korea and India are progressing well as they accelerate their transition to renewables.

In March, my Indian counterpart Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Coal and Mines, Shri Pralhad Joshi and I announced five potential target projects under the Australian-India Critical Minerals Investment Partnership.

And building on the MoU between Australia and the Republic of Korea on critical minerals supply chain cooperation, my colleague the Trade Minister Don Farrell travelled to Seoul last October to explore new critical minerals projects.

State and territory cooperation on critical minerals

The Australian Government is committed to cooperating with Australia’s states and territories to uplift our critical minerals sector and process more materials onshore.

In ministerial roundtables, my counterparts have reiterated the importance of developing polices that attract foreign investment for resources projects. We have also agreed for a renewed focus on efficiency in approvals so projects can get off the ground quickly.

The Government is committed to working with the States and territories to address skills shortages as we develop a new Migration Strategy.

We’re united in believing critical minerals can take the nation and especially regional Australia, on the pathway to produce the metals and materials needed to lower emissions nationally and internationally.

Critical Minerals List

The Government is also reviewing Australia’s Critical Minerals List 

Australia currently lists 26 critical minerals as essential to our modern technologies, economies, and national security.

Many of these critical minerals are vulnerable to disruption.

It’s vital for our national interest that Australia can support strategically important supply chains, so we’re updating the list.  

 Australia’s Critical Minerals List currently considers three main criteria:  

  • Which minerals do we possess significant endowments of?  
  • Which minerals are important to our international partners?  
  • And which minerals have supply chains that are at risk of disruption?

The review of our List will consider whether the criteria is still fit for purpose and if any further considerations, additions or changes need to be made.

In reviewing and updating the List, we will more closely consider the needs and circumstances of partner countries.

With the boom in critical minerals and with Australia and other nations racing to meet their net zero targets, there is an increased urgency in making sure our list is fit for purpose.

Thank you to those companies and experts that took the time and trouble to provide submissions to this review. 


The fragility of global supply chains is motivating governments and companies around the world to assess their supply chain resilience for commodities and manufactured goods.

With our unique geology and know-how, Australia can become the world’s supplier of choice for critical minerals.

But we understand too that our traditional resource base will continue to form the backbone of our economy for decades to come. 

Australia is undertaking this giant leap in decarbonising its economy. It will need all the knowledge, skill and ingenuity of our entire resources sector.