How can the mining industry accelerate the supply of critical minerals to meet increasing metals demand from new technologies?
The challenge facing Critical Minerals is to meet the demand for metals driven by changing technical requirements including, for digital equipment, renewable energy, chemical processing, and electrification of industry.
The landscape for critical minerals is changing rapidly. Supply scarcity is creating a global competition for minerals. Downstream end-users are formulating strategic partnerships with upstream suppliers to secure raw materials.
Cooperative agreements and financing arrangements between countries are being negotiated to strengthen alliances and build resilient supply chains. Everyone is competing for capital and talent.
The industry recognises critical minerals present a once in a generation opportunity to re-strategize global supply chains. There is a collective demand from countries around the world to democratise the production, transmission, and consumption of energy, which is altering international alliances.
A national critical minerals strategy was announced by the Federal Critical Minerals Office in October 2022. MRIWA will be working with the office to help align Western Australian research programs led by the state’s universities, industry, and other WA government programs.
Current MRIWA Activities
There are currently three main work programs. The focus research is relating to exploration and processing of critical minerals.
MRIWA is a sponsor of the FBI CRC and is involved in the following projects:
- Hydrometallurgical Processing for Nickel and Cobalt Ores, Concentrates, Tailings, Wastes – Stage 2 (M0533e, M0533f)
- Beneficiation and Chemical Processing of Lithium Minerals – Phase 2 (M0533i, M0533v)
- Development and Application of Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB) (M10451)
MRIWA has also sponsored project, Understanding the Mt Weld Carbonatite mineral system – a Critical Minerals super-resource in Western Australia (M10422).
MRIWA was a sponsor of the State of Play Critical Minerals Report 2022 (MRIWA Project Number M10470)
. The study considered three time-horizons regarding solutions and benefits on each Critical Mineral:
- Horizon 1 (current) – Existing, proven technology and processes can be applied to increase supply.
- Horizon 2 (breakthrough) – New methods and/or technologies are required to increase supply.
- Horizon 3 (unknown) – New methods and technology need to be identified to make mining feasible.
The study outputs are relevant to MRIWA decision making and analysis of opportunities. The insights could help accelerate priority research programs in Western Australia. Cooperative arrangements on research with Asian minerals institutions and the overseas processors can develop the maturity of Australian critical mineral processing.
To view the State of Play Critical Minerals Report 2022:
MRIWA has supported project (M10481) to accelerate Platinum Group Metals (PGM) Industry in Western Australia. A public tender and scope of the first stage of this study can be found below with the study expected to commence in February 2023.
To view the tender document, click here.
Page was last reviewed 13 January 2023