Joint media release

  • Senator the Hon Matthew Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia
  • Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment
  • Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, Minister for Defence
14 November 2019

Australia has world-leading deposits of rare earth and critical minerals representing a substantial commercial opportunity. The Australian Government will secure the future of rare earth and critical mineral projects, including those strategically important to defence end-use, with new financial options and a dedicated project facilitation office within the Department of Industry.

Projects which boost our ability to extract and process critical minerals in Australia will be eligible for financial support through Export Finance Australia (EFA) including the Defence Export Facility. Changes will also be made to allow projects to access dual funding through the EFA as well as the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the new arrangements meant Australian companies would be able to maximise their access to existing government support to expedite new rare earth and critical mineral processing activities in Australia.

“We are determined to develop our rare earth and critical mineral assets for the benefit of Australia and our technology-driven industries. By allowing proponents to secure financing through both EFA and the NAIF, we are enhancing opportunities for our critical mineral sector. This opens up new opportunities in trade and manufacturing, creating jobs of the future for thousands of Australians.

“To further facilitate the sector’s growth, a specialised new Critical Minerals Facilitation Office will be opened on 1 January 2020 to help proponents secure investment, financing and market access for critical mineral projects. The office will also support international cooperation to help diversify critical minerals supply chains.

“With the increasing global uptake of electric vehicles, smart phones and renewable energy, Australia is well placed to become an international powerhouse to supply critical minerals, and the Government is committed to developing world-leading projects which could help supply global markets.”

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said EFA would now place a greater focus on critical minerals projects and related infrastructure, including projects that supply defence end-use applications where funding can be made available under the Defence Export Facility.

“Australia has world-leading reserves of critical minerals that present commercial opportunities for our businesses, as well as job creation potential in regional Australia,” Minister Birmingham said.

“With critical minerals essential to much of the innovation and technological development in industries such as defence, space, energy and advanced manufacturing, there are real opportunities for Australia to play a bigger role.

“This intensive focus across government could provide many critical minerals projects with access to advice or opportunities that helps to kick-start their operations and create export outcomes.

“Austrade will work in conjunction with the critical minerals project facilitation office to continue its work seeking to promote investment in this sector to the world.”

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said critical minerals were essential inputs to defence capability and a wide range of advanced technology applications.

“These measures will play a vital role in supporting a secure, ethical and sustainable supply of critical minerals, and in doing that help deliver the capability that keeps Australians safe,” Minister Reynolds said.

The government will also commit $4.5 million to fund critical minerals research by key Commonwealth scientific agencies.

The creation of the critical minerals project facilitation office adds to the wealth of work already done by the Government to develop Australia’s critical minerals and rare earths industries, including:

  • Development of a National Resources Statement (February 2019);
  • Development of Australia’s Critical Minerals Strategy (March 2019);
  • Preparation of the Australian Critical Minerals Investment Prospectus (March 2019);
  • An agreement between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and President Donald Trump to develop a US-Australia Action Plan for Critical Minerals Cooperation to support investment, research and development, and diversity in critical minerals supply chains (September 2019); and
  • An upcoming week-long visit to the US by Minister Canavan to further discussions on a US-Australia Critical Mineral Action Plan.

Minister Canavan will depart for the United States today for meetings with counterparts to build further support for international collaboration on critical mineral supply chains.