$40m to secure Australia’s rare earths supply chain

A $40 million grants program designed to build resilience into the local critical minerals supply chain and reduce Australia’s reliance on China has been launched by the Albanese government.

Grants of up to $20 million are now available to applicants through the International Partnerships in Critical Minerals Program, which Resources minister Madeleine King opened late on Wednesday.

The grants target early to mid-stage critical minerals projects that “contribute to building end-to-end supply chains with Australia’s international partners”, according to the opportunity listing.

The government has spent the last year deepening partnerships with “likeminded partners” to build diverse set of new critical minerals supply chains, a key focus of the latest Critical Minerals Strategy.

In the last 12 months, it has signed pacts with France, Germany and the United Kingdom to work more closely on critical minerals. Partnerships have also been inked with Japan and India.

Europe, like Australia, is looking to overcome its reliance on China, which Ms King has previously said “enjoys an unchallenged position” in much of the critical minerals processing supply chain.

According to the Australian Strategy Policy Institute, secure supply chain is also a imperative for AUKUS, with the availability of critical minerals lacking in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The grant funding available through the International Partnerships in Critical Minerals Program will be available for pilot and demonstration plants, and the development of downstream processing capability, research and development (R&D) and intellectual property.

“Activities to be funded include pilot plants, feasibility studies, capacity expansions, scoping work for infrastructure upgrades and R&D collaboration,” the listing states.

The activities must be “substantially undertaken in Australia” and be producing or planning to produce critical minerals listed on Australia’s critical minerals list.

In December, the list was updated to include fluorine, molybdenum, arsenic, selenium, and tellurium. Helium was also removed, in line with international strategic partners.

The grant opportunity will be open to applications for up to two years. Grants ranging from $2 million to $20 million will be on offer to cover up to 50 per cent of project spending.

In last year’s federal Budget, the government set aside $57.1 million to “promote Australian critical minerals projects and build diverse and resilient supply chains with key international partners”.

Announcing the program, Resources minster Madeleine King said the grants would strengthen Australia’s international engagement on critical minerals and support cooperation with its partners.

“Secure supply chains for our critical minerals are essential if we want to build the windfarms, solar panels and batteries we need to reach net zero,” she said.

“These supply chains will also be essential in working with our allies and friends in developing technology needed by defence industry.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

Leave a Comment

Related stories