Speech to the Sydney Energy Forum critical minerals dinner


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Many thanks Nigel [Nigel Steward, Chief Scientist, Rio Tinto]

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land we’re meeting on – the peoples of the Eora Nation – and pay my respects to their elders, past, present and emerging.

I would also like to pay my respects to all the traditional custodians across Australia who so generously welcome the resources industry onto their Country. The relationship between the Australian resources sector and the world’s oldest continuing culture is one that both sides work hard to foster.

I’d like to welcome you all to the Sydney Energy Forum working dinner, focused on critical minerals. It’s my pleasure to be with you.

And can I extend a very warm welcome to our friends who have travelled from across the Indo-Pacific to be here for this forum.

I would like to acknowledge, in particular, the delegation from Japan, given the tragic events over the weekend.

It’s wonderful to have you here in Australia and I thank you for making time to join us tonight in what promises to be an illuminating panel discussion.

I sincerely thank Rio Tinto for leading this event.

It goes without saying that momentum is building for stronger climate action around the world. For an accelerated clean energy transition.

Not least in the Indo-Pacific region, including here in Australia.

This is a region where the impact of climate change is being acutely felt, but it’s also a region brimming with ambition, and the resources to meet the challenge.

Australia and many of our regional partners have made ambitious emissions reduction commitments, including targets for net zero emissions.

How do we turn these commitments into reality?

Part of the answer lies in Australia’s mineral endowments.

I’ve drawn attention previously to the role Australian LNG will have in supporting the decarbonisation ambitions of our trading partners, particularly in north Asia.

It’s also become increasingly clear that a great deal of the clean energy transition over the coming decades will ride on the back of critical minerals.

Lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, rare earth elements and more.

These minerals are the backbone of storage batteries and many renewables.

They’re driving radical change in the technologies that power our homes, offices, factories, vehicles and communication devices.

We’re told that the world is going to need a lot more of these minerals.

Demand for technologies that rely on them – like electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines, and grid energy storage – will skyrocket over the next 3 decades.

Are we ready to meet that challenge?

Yesterday, at the plenaries, we heard the speakers discuss supply chain challenges, and opportunities for diversifying supply and ensuring resilience.

Tonight, we have an opportunity to go into a bit more detail, with our panel of experts and questions from the audience, to build on that discussion.

But before we get to that, I’d like to make this pledge: Australia stands ready to assist our region in tackling the supply chain challenges for critical minerals.

Australia has vast reserves of lithium, cobalt, rare earth elements and other critical minerals.

We also have policy settings that are conducive to the clean energy transition.

Policies by the new Australian Government will see more of our critical minerals not only exported, but processed in Australia to make precursor products and, eventually, things like batteries and solar panels.

We’re committed to helping our regional partners meet their supply needs, decarbonise their economies and fulfil their emissions reduction ambitions.

Australia is a trusted supplier of resources and energy to Indo-Pacific countries and we’re working to build on that success as our critical minerals sector grows.

Australia is building strategic partnerships on critical minerals and is keen to promote further collaboration with our international partners.

Just last week, I met with India’s Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Coal and Mines, the Honourable Shri Pralhad Joshi to reaffirm our commitment to the India-Australia Critical Minerals Investment Partnership, as we visited a lithium refining plant in Kwinana, in my electorate of Brand in Western Australia.

Australia is also pleased to join a range of key partners to launch the Minerals Security Partnership, and welcomes US leadership on this initiative.

The Minerals Security Partnership includes Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the US and the European Commission.

My colleague the Minister for Trade and Tourism, Senator Don Farrell, signed Australia up to the partnership last month, underling our commitment to building reliable, secure and resilient critical minerals supply chains.

We know that tackling the critical minerals supply chain challenges will require the concerted effort of like-minded economies across the region.

It will require investment collaboration to diversify critical minerals markets.

It will require partnerships that increase investment in resources projects to bring clean energy products to market faster.

The international presence here tonight speaks volumes.

It speaks to the collaborative spirit we have in the Indo-Pacific, and with our wider international partners.

It attests to our determination to tackle the big climate challenges we face.

It also affirms our resolve to seize the opportunities climate change brings.

And what better way to do that than bring together the experts from industry, science and government to share in the knowledge that abounds in our region.

I look forward to hearing your great ideas tonight, as we dine together.

Thank you.