Scott Morrison has moved to reduce Australia’s reliance on China for rare earth materials with $243 million in grants to produce critical minerals required to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles.
The Prime Minister addressed the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday, saying he will outline funding for major private projects that produce critical minerals or are involved in manufacturing batteries later today.
“These projects are about manufacturing the products and materials Australians need and the world needs, by making them right here at home,” Mr Morrison said.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the grants fall under the $1.3bn Modern Manufacturing Initiative. In a pre-election move, the government want to open up major export opportunities and reduce reliance on China.
“Australia is lucky to have some of the largest reserves of the critical minerals and metals which drive the modern global economy,” Taylor said.
“But China currently dominates around 70 to 80 per cent of global critical minerals production and continues to consolidate its hold over these supply chains. This initiative is designed to address that dominance.”
$3o million of the funding will be assigned to a rare earth separation plant with the potential to supply NdPr, a required material for electric vehicle magnets.
The $90.8m Arafura Resources Nolans Project in Central Australia is being built to become the second biggest non-China source of rare earths in the world.
Arafura Managing Director Gavin Lockyer told the West Australian, “rare earths are critical to the manufacture of electric vehicles and wind turbines, with demand growth forecast to be exponential in coming decades,” Arafura Managing Director Gavin Lockyer said.
“It will be Australia’s first vertically integrated project of its kind and the world’s second biggest non-China source of rare earths, processing on site to meet more than 5 per cent of global demand.”
A $400m project will focus on the production of battery cathode active materials (pCAM) – a vital precursor product for advanced electric vehicle battery materials.
The Prime Minister will also announce $49m for a vanadium battery project in Western Australia, which could be used for charging infrastructure for electric cars, residential energy storage, agriculture and mining.