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Australia, India critical minerals collab

Metal Tech News - July 10, 2024

Countries combine interests in security, defense, and the growing need for raw materials and processing for the oncoming energy transition.

Australia is expanding its cooperation with India on critical minerals, batteries, and electric vehicles, batteries.

Critical minerals such as copper, cobalt, lithium, nickel, and rare earth elements are essential components in today's rapidly growing clean energy technologies, from adapting power grids to powering EVs.

Both countries have signed an interim free trade agreement and are in continued negotiations to expand that into a more comprehensive accord. The agreement, called the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), went into effect in December 2022.

"We are looking at how we can integrate our (India and Australia) economies in terms of battery production, in terms of mineral production, in terms of mineral processing, in terms of vehicle production," said Australia Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal at a conference on India's Roadmap for Vehicle Electrification organized by India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA), focused on the development of advanced energy storage, e-mobility, green hydrogen, and emerging technologies in India.

Australia has strong reserves of critical minerals and is the world's leading supplier of hardrock lithium. It is also home to the second-largest cobalt reserves in the world. Australia's cobalt is produced as a byproduct of copper and nickel mining. However, China maintains nearly all the world's cobalt refining capacity, with Australia being the fifth-largest producer of refined copper, according to a 2023 industry report by GlobalData.

India could help provide the missing links in critical mineral supply chains.

"We want to make India able to get easier access to all of the critical minerals and other capabilities in our society that can help India's green transition, and the only way we can achieve that is by a full free trade agreement," said Australian High Commissioner to India Philip Green at the event.

India and Australia are also part of the Quad, an alliance that includes Japan and the United States, which aims to counter China's rising influence in Asia.

The two countries became a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2020, signing various agreements to strengthen defense ties and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also visited, holding talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, praising the two countries' progress in scientific and technological cooperation and military exercises.

Though the meteoric rise of EV sales in the U.S. and Australia has slowed, sales in India haven't, demanding the timely development of an integrated charging and battery-building ecosystem.

"A whole gamut of activities is going to open up through the energy transition in the country, and there is a lot to do both by the government and the private sector, and therefore great opportunity is coming to investors to invest in this whole value chain," Barthwal said.

Together with India, Australia is focused on the whole supply chain, securing resources at home as well as through the global supply chain, promoting ease of doing business across both countries and increasing land availability for production and manufacturing.

"We are trying to create an ecosystem whereby investments can be encouraged...close to US$500 billion of potential exists. So, I think, it's a huge opportunity," Barthwal added.


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