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Albanese unveils millions for minerals

The Albanian government has stepped up efforts to combat China’s grip on the supply chain for critical minerals, announcing it will direct $585 million in public funds to projects producing key inputs for batteries , renewable energies and electric cars.

Queensland-based Alpha Hpa, which specializes in the production of ultra-high purity alumina used in LED lighting, semiconductors and lithium-ion batteries, will receive $400 million in new loans to establish a manufacturing plant. treatment at Gladstone.

The federal government will also support South Australian graphite hopeful Renascor Resources by accelerating a $185 million loan initially unveiled by the Coalition in 2022 to expand production at its Arno Bay mine on the Eyre Peninsula , in the state, for use in the global electric car and renewable energy industries. .

The money follows $840 million in funding to Arafura Rare Earths, backed by Gina Rinehart, to help the mineral exploration company expand its Northern Territory-based mining operation and refinery, and brings taxpayer exposure to the exploration and processing of critical minerals to well over $2 billion.

Traveling to Gladstone on Wednesday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will unveil details of the investments, which will be funded through the government’s $4 billion Critical Minerals Fund.

The investments will be part of Labour’s Future Made in Australia Act, which covers a wide range of existing policies, including the $15 billion National Rebuilding Fund and green manufacturing grants, designed to strengthen economic sovereignty.

“The global race for new jobs and new opportunities is on. Our government wants Australia to be part of the victory,” Mr Albanese said in a statement.

“These two essential mining projects will help ensure quality, secure manufacturing jobs and clean, reliable energy.

The support is expected to create a total of 445 permanent jobs in Queensland and South Australia and comes at a critical time for the rare earths industry, following the fall in prices of key raw materials last year.

Even though prices, particularly those of nickel and lithium, appear to have reached their lowest level, they remain close to their lowest levels in several years, driven down by the explosion in Chinese production and higher demand. weaker than expected.

Alpha Hpa avoided the sell-off that hit much of the critical minerals industry, but Renascor’s share price collapsed by almost 70%, from 25 cents in April 2023 to 8 cents a year later.

Volatile commodity prices and high production costs have made it difficult for the industry to obtain financing, leading a number of miners to shelve their projects.

While China dominates the global rare earth market, Canberra has rapidly accelerated investment in the production of critical minerals in recent years to rival Beijing’s near-monopoly on the industry.

Similarly, the United States has also sought to bolster its own supplies of critical minerals, establishing tax incentives, grants and project loans through President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act .

In 2023, the US Department of Defense awarded ASX-listed Australian critical minerals producer Lynas Rare Earths a $258 million contract to build a processing facility in Texas to produce earths rare “heavy” ones.

Trade Minister Don Farrell said the Government’s investment in critical minerals would help strengthen local industry and position Australia as a supplier to key international markets.

“These projects will create hundreds of well-paid local jobs and manufacturing opportunities, while also helping to diversify Australia’s critical mineral exports with new sourcing opportunities in Japan, Korea and beyond” , said Senator Farrell.

Read related topics:Anthony AlbaneseChina

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