As the transition to clean energy accelerates, we will need huge quantities of critical minerals – the minerals needed to electrify transport, build batteries, manufacture solar panels, wind turbines, consumer electronics and defence technologies.

That’s where Australia can help. We have the world’s largest supply of four critical minerals: nickel, rutile, tantalum and zircon. We’re also in the top five for cobalt, lithium, copper, antimony, niobium and vanadium. Even better, many of these minerals can be produced as a side benefit of mining copper, aluminium-containing bauxite, zinc and iron ores.

But to date, we are not making the most of this opportunity. Many of these vital minerals end up on the pile of discarded tailings. The question is, why are we not mining them? Compared to other major critical mineral suppliers such as China, we are lagging behind.

While the federal government’s new strategy for the sector is a step in the right direction, small-scale miners will need sustained support to help our critical mineral sector grow.

Read Mohan Yellishetty’s article in The Conversation

The Conversation