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23 August 2022 3 min read

This is a whole of value chain demand accompanied by a consumer and investor expectation of the highest standards of ESG accountability in this supply.

Dr Rob Hough, Director CSIRO Mineral Resources ©  Ian Dickson

Australia is very well placed, and widely regarded as not only a jurisdiction with a reputation for high standards in resource development, but also with a rich endowment of existing resources and very high exploration potential for new resource discoveries.

In this issue of Resourceful, we focus on our critical minerals, the essential ingredients for the technologies that will power the energy transformation and that provide solutions as we strive towards achieving a Net Zero world.

We describe some of these minerals as ‘critical’, in part in testament to their importance for the technologies that are made from them and in turn the importance of those technologies to the world, but critical also due to a lack of transparency, certainty of supply, sovereign capabilities to maximise value and from our dependence on single countries in what can easily and frequently be disrupted supply chains.

Many of our articles in this issue of Resourceful will touch on these aspects of criticality and outline how increasing volumes of these minerals are required for these technologies compared to similar products in the past.

Exploration activity in the search for new critical mineral deposits is increasing and efforts by groups like CSIRO (new exploration technologies) and Geoscience Australia (pre competitive data) are targeting support for Australian industry to discover these new mineral resources that can speed up the process of bringing on the urgently required new supply.

With the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasting we require at least 60 new Lithium mines within a decade to meet current commitments alone, the exploration challenge is truly set!

While these minerals might not currently be a major export commodity for Australia compared to iron ore or gold, it is certain that they will increase in importance in the future.

An added dimension is that there is significant extra value to be gained for Australia by taking these minerals further along the value chain, to deliver high value chemicals and materials, and high value components.

The articles on our graphite work, solar, and our feature on Lab22 are great examples of these opportunities being pursued right now, while the discussion with Jerad Ford outlines the significant future upside if we grow our value-added resource industries as was featured in our recent Critical Energy Metals Roadmap.

Australia not only has a strong resource base, but also has world class and arguably world leading research expertise and facilities. We continue to maintain and modernise these capabilities for Australia, supporting industry and government through science and technology.

This issue of Resourceful is a snapshot from CSIRO (and our partners) and highlights how our capabilities play an important part in the critical minerals supply chain research.

With CSIRO’s long history in mineral resources innovation we can, and are, pivoting to support the growth of the critical minerals sector and to ensure it can meet the demands of quality, environmental and social performance, to be a trusted and certified provider of products.

Our article on blockchain, for example, shows how we can help certify our future trade and provide the kind of guarantees expected in the provenance of any products used in modern day life, particularly in the context of green energy technologies as solutions being delivered to help tackle climate change.

These capabilities strengthen our global role in the energy transformation challenge, providing opportunities for new international collaborations with the many countries that share the same goals to build resilient and diverse supply chains in critical minerals.

We feature the opportunity for collaboration and our relationship with India, an elegant example of how two nations can come together to consider how science and technology can help grow shared value from the sector and meet shared needs.

Ultimately, we are setting an exciting challenge, to maximise Australia’s critical minerals potential, to create value, and to sustainably and securely supply quality and certified products into a value chain that can deliver to the global energy transformation.

Our national science, engineering and technology expertise coupled with our ability to rapidly translate innovation into impact is already on the move!

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