The Northern Territory has important minerals that our country and the world need, and the Northern Territory Government is working hard to support their exploration and development.
The mining sector offers significant economic contributions and employment opportunities, especially in remote areas. Utilizing natural resources is a priority as the demand for natural resources increases worldwide.
Important minerals help tackle climate change and reduce emissions globally through the technologies they support. It is also critical to Australia’s defense and needs to secure its supply chain.
There is great potential for mineral-rich countries to lead this way, offering incredible opportunities for Australia, especially the Northern Territory, where these minerals are economically proven, produced and exported. increase.
Our vast geological catalog of important minerals includes aluminum, cobalt, copper, lithium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, phosphates, rare earth elements, titanium, tungsten, vanadium, zinc and zirconium. .
In addition, 13 minerals are likely to be declared important: antimony, bismuth, gallium, germanium, graphite, helium, high-purity alumina, niobium, platinum group elements, scandium, silicon, tantalum and tin.
The Territory is already home to the world’s largest manganese producer, the Groote Eylandt Mining Company. The McArthur River Mine, which has been in operation since 1995, is his fourth largest zinc mine in the world, and Core Lithium’s Finniss project is Australia’s only producing lithium mine outside of Western Australia.
There are nine other important mineral projects in various stages of planning and development in the territory, including Arafura Rare Earth’s Nolands Project. Nolans, which mines phosphates and rare earths in central Australia, will be the country’s first integrated mining and rare earth separation plant.
Reaching these development milestones has been challenging and will continue unless industry and government work together. It is important to recognize that the industry operates in an increasingly hostile environment due to its general activity against it. Despite the extraction of resources that make all of this altered future possible, this environment is partly due to a lack of trust by communities based on isolated events and the persistence of the industry without the permission of traditional owners. This is due to the perception that it is impossibly managed.
Access to capital and regulatory uncertainty are also proving challenging for the industry. Especially for junior companies that do not have the large commercial backing or expertise necessary to understand the evolving approval landscape.
One of the challenges experienced by the industry in the territory has been solved and the solution has been a huge success. The remoteness of our natural resources means that NT is under-explored for important minerals. Our $9.5 million Resourcing the Territory program annually co-funds projects that address scientific knowledge gaps, advance exploration efforts, and support resource discovery and development.
The need to mitigate other challenges and operational pressures facing the industry is urgent. Established by the Northern Territory Government in 2021, the Mineral Development Task Force is conducting a comprehensive review of the Northern Territory’s mining regulations to identify efficiencies and areas for improvement, rebuilding community trust and confidence. developing a strategy to Its final report will be delivered shortly, along with recommendations to governments to address these issues and general barriers to investment in new mining and downstream processing.
States and territories, especially smaller jurisdictions like the Northern Territory, are limited in what they can do to create a positive investment climate. Australia has to fall behind as billions of dollars of funding continue to be launched abroad to advance decarbonization technologies and renewable industries. The federal government can play an important role by ensuring that the vital minerals industry develops rapidly and sustainably and provides sufficient resources to meet demand.
If setting up a fund to attract industry to Australia is not practical, many other practical solutions can be deployed. Based on the success of the Resourcing the Territory program, a similar fund could be established to continue government support during the feasibility stage. Government support is very favorable when investment decisions are made and projects are more likely to proceed to construction. Tax incentives to support downstream processing and manufacturing can also be taken into account.
Given that mineral activity is remote and potentially disrupted as a result, providing access to quality infrastructure will only increase production. Resilient transportation routes, telecommunications and other common infrastructure enable a fast and safe supply chain from extraction to processing.
The Northern Territory Government is advancing its own world-class processing solutions through the development of the Middle Arm’s Sustainable Development District. With her $1.5 billion in federal support, the project will be home to a low-emission industrial process that will connect directly to existing export infrastructure. Master planning work is already underway to ensure the district meets the development needs of the industry.
In addition to practical solutions, there is a need for promotional activities that must be led by the Commonwealth, particularly through Austrade and Export Financing Australia. Feedback from international stakeholders indicates that the quality and quantity of important minerals available across Australia are not well understood. International trade is important to the economies of all states and territories. The value of partnering with these federal organizations and directly introducing our capabilities to current and future trading partners cannot be underestimated and must be urgently moved forward.
By working together, Australians have a very real opportunity to be at the forefront of the world’s vital mineral supplies. I have a chance. The Northern Territory Government is pursuing all options to make the Territory globally competitive and is excited about the growth opportunities that this industry development presents.
On 12-14 April, ASPI, together with the Northern Territory Government’s ‘Investment Areas’ programme, held its first darwin dialogueThe 1.5-track dialogue brought together representatives of government, industry and academia, including delegations from Japan and the United States, to establish secure supply chains and value chains for mining, processing and refining critical minerals outside of China. Discuss establishment.