Mining minerals

Traditional minerals have a role to play in net zero goals

PERTH ( – Federal Minister for Resources Magdalene King said it was still possible for Australia to supply traditional products such as iron ore and coal to meet global demand, but the country should also capitalize on the drive for net zero.

Speaking at a Minerals Week event in Canberra, King promised the government would provide the political certainty needed for a national economy as the world undergoes a massive energy transformation.

“This government understands the contribution that traditional primary industries have played and continue to play. We also recognize that the world is united in its drive to decarbonize and, like the minerals and resources industry, we recognize the new opportunities in your sector,” she said.

“To play our part in the global energy transition and seize the economic opportunities that lie within it, Australia needs to make the most sweeping set of changes to our energy grid that the country has ever seen.

“It’s no small task. It’s a huge challenge and a huge opportunity, but we and you are up to it,” she said.

King noted that renewable energy infrastructure would still require traditional resources such as iron ore, saying Wednesday that Australia’s high-grade iron ore should be the cornerstone of this development, and that demand for its metallurgical coal resources would remain high for “some time”.

“We know that as the world decarbonises, we want Australia’s resource sector to remain competitive,” the minister said.

King also noted that critical minerals would be the basis for most, if not all, of the low-emission technologies developed to meet the Paris global targets, and that metallurgical coal, copper, iron ore and Australian nickels were also crucial for the wires, batteries, magnets and semiconductors that power clean energy technologies.

“Our challenge is to increase the supply of the minerals the world needs to manufacture these technologies, and this is where the experience and cutting-edge expertise of the Australian resources sector will play a leading role.

“In other words, there can be no clean energy transition without Australia’s resource sector.

“We are blessed with an abundance of essential minerals. We produce about half of the world’s lithium, we are the second largest producer of cobalt and the fourth largest producer of rare earths,” King said.

“The government wants to position Australia as a clean energy superpower, and unlocking the full potential of our critical mineral endowments is an essential part of this. This can help unlock emissions reductions in Australia and overseas, and based on this, it is one of the most valuable contributions we can make towards achieving the global Paris targets.

“All of this while driving national economic growth through regional jobs, building national industries and strengthening international partnerships.”