The CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has compiled a Roadmap showing how critical minerals resources such as lithium and silicon can be turned into renewable energy products like solar panels, electric vehicles and wind turbines.
The Critical Energy Minerals Roadmap found significant potential for Australia to reshape its mining sector and capitalise on the opportunity, turning these resources into high purity materials and products through refining and manufacturing.
The global demand for renewable energy technologies means the future global economy will be underpinned by critical energy materials, according to CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall.
“Australia’s future economic prosperity will depend on how well we can use our vast energy and mineral resources to play to our strengths and create new opportunities through the global transition to net zero emissions,” Marshall said.
“There is a wealth of opportunity in front of us that will only be fully realised by developing a Team Australia response.”
The Roadmap was co-funded by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources’ Critical Minerals Facilitation Office and examines the renewable energy technologies expected to undergo accelerated growth over the next few decades. It also assesses Australia’s potential to extract value from minerals needed to manufacture the technologies.
The report also helps guide investment in local manufacturing through consideration of Australia’s comparative strengths along each of the technology supply chains.
It estimates the metal value of the energy transition’s top technologies to reach over $5 trillion globally by 2050. Over half of this would be battery metals with greater value potential for manufacturing products, such as polysilicon for solar PV cells or cathodes for batteries.
“Rather than just extracting the minerals and shipping them away to be refined and turned into products, Australia has a real opportunity to operate all the way along the energy value chain, from extraction to processing, separating, refining and manufacturing high value materials and products,” CSIRO Mineral Resources director Jonathan Law said.
“Connecting our mining and manufacturing sectors can create an investment ecosystem that supports domestic supply chains and resource circularity for our critical minerals. The roadmap also demonstrates the economic opportunities that can be harnessed by strategically investing in new critical mineral deposits and processing technologies that reduce cost and environmental footprint.”
The Critical Energy Minerals Roadmap was developed as part of a broader piece of research for critical minerals resources, Critical Energy Metals Mission. It is part of the CSIRO Missions program launched last year, which is a large-scale research program aimed at solving challenges in collaboration with government, academia, industry and community.