Australia's Resources Minister has embarked on a week-long trip to South Korea and Japan to discuss opportunities in gas exports and critical minerals. The Australian government has released a "prospectus" featuring 52 investment-ready critical minerals projects, seeking investments from allies to develop minerals crucial for green energy and vulnerable to supply chain disruptions. These projects span rare earths processing to various cobalt and nickel-producing mines and plants.
Minister Madeleine King emphasized the significance of Australia's critical minerals in the world's energy transformation. She stressed the need to attract investment for extracting these minerals, processing them locally, and producing batteries, wind turbines, and solar panels essential for transitioning to a lower carbon economy.
During her visit, Minister King will meet with Japan's Trade Minister Ken Saito and South Korea's Trade and Energy Minister Duk-geun Ahn. Natural gas discussions will also take place as Australia formulates its future gas policy, given the substantial gas trade between Australia and both Japan and South Korea.
Minister King highlighted Australia's role in ensuring energy security for large economies such as Japan, South Korea, China, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, and others.
This investment drive coincides with a global decline in prices for electric vehicle battery materials like lithium and nickel, partly due to slower-than-expected electric vehicle adoption and increased nickel supply from Indonesia. Australian nickel projects have already been affected, with some being postponed or canceled.
Minister King has been actively engaging with industry leaders and pledged support for the sector. She aims to position Australian miners to compete with cheaper but environmentally less friendly minerals produced overseas. King sees the potential for Australia to become a reliable long-term supplier of critical minerals and rare earths to Japan, similar to how Japan contributed to building Australia's iron ore and LNG industries.
This initiative seeks to strengthen Australia's position in the global critical minerals market and foster strong trade relationships with Japan and South Korea in support of green energy development and supply chain security.