Critical minerals: background note: Critical minerals - developments globally and in Australia

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The last year has seen great focus on ‘critical minerals’. There is broad consensus that, to meet the 2050 energy transition for the Paris Agreement, much more critical minerals are required (and that means mined, given that recycling supply cannot meet expected demand). Many governments have adopted incentives to encourage and support the mining and processing of these minerals. And, just in the last few months, significant price volatility has seen some critical mineral operations in Western Australia close, and increasing consideration of government incentives.
‘Critical minerals’ have not unearthed anything new around how a state encourages mining and processing while regulating their impacts and benefits. The recent attention to ‘critical minerals’ is merely the latest iteration of this perennial conundrum, which has arisen in Western Australia at various times in the last five decades. Much commentary is assessing Australia’s approach in light of developments around critical minerals overseas, such as Canada’s tightening of foreign investment in critical minerals, Indonesia’s ban on export of unrefined nickel to force development of local processing capacity, the USA’s finance and preferencing for critical minerals processing, the European Union’s Critical Raw Materials Act and Japan’s Economic Security Act. A Lowy Institute analysis, in late 2023, framed this starkly “Australia’s international approach to mining-related industrialisation is simply out of step with its peers. With little evidence to suggest that Australia is meaningfully decreasing its heavy economic reliance on raw minerals exports, the government should be seriously considering adopting its own measures to shape mining policy within Australia and the green transition abroad. Australia’s approach has so far largely been business-as-usual, reflective of a time before widespread opposition to the World Trade Organisation’s trade liberalisation agenda and its international legal architecture led many countries to adopt overtly protectionist trade policies”.
A question arises: what role does and should law/regulation have in any of this?
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2024
EventCritical minerals - developments globally and in Australia - Norton Rose Fulbright Australia, Perth, Australia
Duration: 21 Feb 202421 Feb 2024


SeminarCritical minerals - developments globally and in Australia


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