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CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has revealed new research forecasting a bright new future for Australia’s critical mineral resources – as building blocks for renewable energy products.

The research shows how mining and manufacturing sectors can work together to turn mineral resources, such as lithium and silicon, into products for renewable energy, like electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines.

The Critical Energy Minerals Roadmap found significant potential for Australia to reshape its mining sector to capitalise on the opportunity, as a nation rich in essential mineral resources. 

CSIRO Chief Executive, Dr Larry Marshall, said the global demand for renewable energy technologies would mean the future global economy would be underpinned by critical energy minerals. 

“Australia’s future economic prosperity will depend on how well we can use our vast energy and mineral resources to play to our strengths and create new opportunities through the global transition to net zero emissions,” Dr Marshall said.

“There is a wealth of opportunity in front of us that will only be fully realised by developing a Team Australia response.” 

The report, co-funded by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources’ Critical Minerals Facilitation Office, examines the renewable energy technologies expected to undergo accelerated growth over the coming decades and assesses Australia’s potential to derive value from minerals needed to manufacture these technologies. 

It also considers Australia’s comparative strengths along each of the technology supply chains to help guide investment in local manufacturing.

The Roadmap estimates the metal value of the energy transition’s top technologies to reach more than $5 trillion dollars globally by 2050, over half of that being battery metals, with greater potential for manufacturing products like cathodes for batteries, or polysilicon for solar PV cells.

CSIRO’s Director Mineral Resources, Jonathan Law, said Australia could significantly increase the value of its mineral exports, enable more local manufacturing and strengthen global supply chains.

“Rather than just extracting the minerals and shipping them away to be refined and turned into products, Australia has a real opportunity to operate all the way along the energy value chain, from extraction to processing, separating, refining and manufacturing high value materials and products,” Mr Law said.

“Connecting our mining and manufacturing sectors can create an investment ecosystem that supports domestic supply chains and resource circularity for our critical minerals.

“The roadmap also demonstrates the economic opportunities that can be harnessed by strategically investing in new critical mineral deposits and processing technologies that reduce cost and environmental footprint.” 

CSIRO developed the roadmap as part of a broader piece of research on critical minerals resources, through its developing Critical Energy Metals Mission. 

It is part of the CSIRO Missions program launched in 2020.

For more information on theCritical Energy Minerals Roadmap, click here

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