Speech to the Queensland Critical Minerals Investor Forum


Thank you for the invitation to speak at this Critical Minerals Investor Forum hosted by Queensland Treasury.

Let me acknowledge the Turrbal and Jagera people – the traditional custodians of the lands we’re meeting on today and pay my respects to their Elders past and present.

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

And thank you, Charis Mullen for the introduction. 

I also acknowledge Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick and Queensland Minister for Resources Scott Stewart.

Key messages

Mining has always involved an element of luck. It has always been an industry that has attracted entrepreneurs and risk takers.

It’s a mindset I think that Queenslanders and Western Australians understand, appreciate and – yes - celebrate.

Finding and developing mineral resources is expensive and time-consuming.

Miners driving a project from exploration to production routinely take on significant debt, with no guarantee of returns.

Navigating that road means uncertainty.

But mining investment risk can be mitigated by two things.

Quality mineral endowments and public policy settings that encourage and support exploration and production.

In Australia we have both.

In Australia we have both the geology and the policy.

Our geology is unique and coveted by the world.  

Our reserves of lithium, cobalt, tungsten, vanadium, niobium, antimony, and manganese are in the top five globally.

We are the number one lithium producer internationally and the second largest producer of zirconium.

And we have energy transition metals such as copper and zinc to complement this. We have eleven per cent of global copper reserves, which puts us second only to Chile.

Mount Isa and Cloncurry have world-class copper and zinc deposits.

Queensland will play an important role in this particularly with its vanadium potential. While vanadium is traditionally used in high strength steel – it is increasingly being applied in Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries.

Unlike better known lithium-ion batteries, vanadium redox flow batteries boast superior durability for long term storage and charging and the technology has much greater recycling potential.

And congratulations to the Queensland Government for its $5 billion investment in CopperString 2032, which will connect the state’s north-west minerals province to the National Energy Market. And the announcement last week of over half a billion dollars over the next year to supercharge the construction of CopperString.

It is this type of pioneering investment by a government, supportive of the resources sector, that will open up the north-west minerals province to new investment by the private sector.

Queensland is making great strides in building battery storage as seen by the very recent opening of Vecco Group’s $26 million Townsville Vanadium Battery Manufacturing Facility. And I note that the project has been supported by the Queensland Government through the Queensland Jobs Fund.

Our appeal as a mining investment destination is underwritten by our stable democratic government and respect for the rule of law.

Our taxation levels are moderate, and our regulatory processes are transparent.

When you add to the mix our expertise in mining equipment, technology and services, it’s easy to understand why Australia is viewed as an attractive place to invest.

Investment will be key to developing the mining projects that we and our partners need to decarbonise our economies.

The road to net zero runs through the resources sector.

We are well placed in Australia to leverage our critical minerals endowment and investor appeal to drive the global clean energy transition.

Our task now is to refocus on our policy and investment settings to secure a pipeline of new projects.

Engagement and collaboration across jurisdictions will be critical to this process.

Today, I was pleased to meet my state and territory counterparts here in Brisbane for a ministerial roundtable.

We discussed the new Critical Minerals Strategy, which provides a national framework to support the growth of Australia’s critical minerals sector.

The strategy sets out a vision to grow our critical minerals industry, create jobs and downstream industries, strengthen global supply chains, and help Australia to become a renewable energy superpower.

The Strategy is a whole of government plan to 2030 and will be an enduring framework to guide future Australian Government policy decisions.

The strategy recognises the importance of crowding in investment finance to develop new projects and grow Australia’s downstream processing capability.

I am pleased to report that ministers have agreed to work together on a more joined-up approach to attracting new investment, building on the work of Australia Minerals and Austrade.

In releasing the Strategy, I was pleased to announce the Government’s commitment to ask the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to earmark $500 million for critical minerals projects.

Critical minerals projects may also be able to access support through other Australian Government financing bodies, including Export Finance Australia, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund.

The National Reconstruction Fund will be able to provide loans, equity, or guarantees to help scale up investment for activities that value-add in our resources sector.

For other strategic critical minerals projects nearing financial close, the Government’s $2 billion Critical Minerals Facility stands ready to provide loans and other finance.

It is important to remember the Critical Minerals Strategy was not designed as a shopping list of items. Australia cannot outspend economies significantly larger than our own.

I understand some have become accustomed to a different mode of policy making where financial support has been given primacy over strategy and planning.

Financial investment by governments to support strategic projects where the market cannot is, of course, very important.

We know that opaque markets for critical minerals make investment decisions difficult.

But it is wise to establish what strategic investment looks like with the benefit of a well thought out, considered and inclusive strategy.

This is what the Federal Government has done.

The Albanese Government’s policies will support companies right here in Queensland.

In Gladstone, Alpha HPA is developing sustainable high purity aluminium materials to market.

This is what the Government wants to see – projects that leverage technology and Australia’s reputation for environmentally responsible, efficient production methods.

This company has been supported through a $15 million grant from the Critical Minerals Development Program and a $45 million grant through the Modern Manufacturing Initiative Collaboration Stream Program.

We are also working closely with industry and international partners to ensure Australian projects link to emerging markets in the US, Britain, Japan, Korea, India, and European Union member states.

The new Australia-United States Climate, Critical Minerals, and Clean Energy Transformation Compact, for example, will ensure Australian projects are at the front of the queue in winning access to the billions in US dollars being put into clean energy projects by the Biden Administration. 

It is a hugely significant development and one that I will spearhead along with the US National Security Council.


Minerals are essential to the nation’s economic fabric. But they are also key to the world’s energy transition plans.

Many of these needed critical minerals are in Queensland.

Working with Queensland government and industry, the Albanese Government will ensure we attract the investment needed to develop these opportunities into projects that deliver jobs, sustainable economic development, and future prosperity for the nation.

Again, thank you for this opportunity and, please, enjoy the rest of the forum.