Critical Minerals in Australia: A Review of Opportunities and Research Needs

Gavin M. Mudd, Timothy Tyson Werner, Zhehan Weng, Mohan Yellishetty, Eric Yuan, Sarlae McAlpine , Roger Skirrow, Karol Czarnota

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned ReportResearch


Critical Minerals in Australia: A Review of Opportunities
and Research Needs was commissioned by Geoscience
Australia in collaboration with RMIT University and Monash
University to analyse the current state of critical minerals
in Australia and highlight key areas that warrant further
investigation. The report covers: global demand and
supply; Australia’s resource potential; an overview of
‘criticality’ assessment methods; current Australian
production; and future research needs for critical
minerals in Australia.
Critical minerals are pivotal to modern human society.
Many critical minerals are irreplaceable components of
technological and industrial advancement, especially for
renewable energy systems, electric vehicles, rechargeable
batteries, consumer electronics, telecommunications,
specialty alloys, and defence technologies.
Critical minerals include metals, non-metals and mineral
compounds that are economically important and subject
to risks of supply. The ‘criticality’ of minerals is a
subjective concept; countries develop their own lists
of critical minerals based on the relative importance
of particular minerals to their industrial needs and
strategic assessment of supply risks. Lists are reviewed
and changed over time. The supply of critical minerals is an
area of growth potential due to increasing technological
demands and uses at a global level.
Australia is one of the world’s principal producers of
several major mineral commodities including bauxite, coal,
copper, lead, gold, ilmenite, iron ore, nickel, rutile, zircon,
and zinc. Although some critical minerals are mined as
primary products, many critical minerals are extracted
as companion products from major mineral production.
Considering Australia’s leading expertise in mining and
processing as well as extensive mineral resources likely to
contain critical minerals, there is potential for Australia to
develop into a supplier of critical minerals.
Australia’s opportunity to develop into a supplier of
critical minerals is significantly affected by a number of
factors, including;
• insufficient knowledge of critical minerals in
Australian deposits and their behaviour during
metallurgical processing
• few geological studies dedicated to assessing and
facilitating the discovery of critical mineral resources
in Australia
• the need for new mining technology and services to
economically extract critical minerals
• gaps in capabilities of domestic smelters/refineries
to process critical minerals.
For Australia to reach its full potential and maximise its
position in the global critical minerals market, these issues
require further research and investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCanberra ACT Australia
PublisherGeoscience Australia
Commissioning bodyGeoscience Australia (GA)
Number of pages58
ISBN (Print)9781925848243
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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