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New Critical Minerals Strategy Puts Emphasis on Domestic Manufacturing and Training in NSW

The New South Wales (NSW) government intends to prioritise domestic manufacturing, skills, and training opportunities in the critical minerals and high-tech metals mining industry as it develops a new strategy for the sector.

The government is set to begin consultations with industry players for the drafting of its new Critical Minerals and High-Tech Metals Strategy, which aims to ensure a stable supply of critical minerals and high-tech elements to boost economic growth and regional employment.

NSW has 17 of the 26 nationally identified critical minerals necessary in the pursuit of clean energy and net zero by 2050.

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“NSW is uniquely positioned to support global supply of critical minerals with our diverse mix of critical mineral and high-tech metal deposits and capacity to promote domestic processing and manufacturing,” NSW Natural Resources Minister Courtney Houssos said.

“We will consider how boosted skills and training opportunities throughout the state can drive the industry. Critical minerals mining requires a skilled labour force and that means more, high-paying jobs for people in regional NSW.”

Through the consultations, the government will explore opportunities to boost the domestic processing of products with critical minerals inputs like solar panels; further push greenfield critical minerals exploration, including through the release of geological survey data; create additional certainty for the sector; and support the state’s environmental, social, and corporate governance position.

The government also seeks to attract investment for innovation, research and development in NSW and aims to establish the state as a preferred supplier of critical minerals to global trading partners.

“We can’t miss out on maximizing the benefits from this next mining boom. We can leverage these critical minerals and high-tech metals like cobalt, zinc, nickel, scandium and rare earth elements for future economic prosperity,” Ms. Houssos posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Mining is Key in Renewable Energy Transition, Expert Says

A failure to mine critical minerals will not only impede the development of renewable energy technologies but would also make them more costly, according to an expert.

“If we can’t produce those critical minerals it will be a bottleneck for the net carbon zero future. And if they become expensive, that means the energy will be very, very expensive as well,” Ismet Canbulat, Head of the School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering at UNSW Sydney, said.

“So we need to be able to produce them at a reasonable cost and obviously, sell them at a reasonable cost, so they can get implemented in renewable energy technologies.”

Mr. Canbulat said that the only way to boost critical minerals production is to increase productivity, resource recovery, and investments in mining operations.

“There will be a lot of challenges, particularly around increased production. Increased production means we will have to do more selective mining with much less waste and then much faster and much more productive than what we have right now,” Mr. Canbulat said.

NSW Pushes for Clean Energy Transition

Earlier, the NSW government said that it will further invest $1.8 billion to boost the state’s transition to clean energy.

The NSW government will allocate $1 billion from Restart NSW for the establishment of the Energy Security Corporation, which would be designated to invest in storage projects, address gaps in the current market, and improve electricity network reliability.

An $800 million will be earmarked for the Transmission Acceleration Facility to accelerate the linking of NSW’s Renewable Energy Zones (REZ) to the grid.

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