Nickel and lithium producers met with the Federal Minister for Resources, Madeleine King, and Western Australian Minister for Mines, David Michael, to discuss how government can respond to challenges currently facing the industry. 

Ms King and Mr Michael held discussions with senior representatives of resources companies, as well as representatives of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA, Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, Minerals Council of Australia and relevant unions in Perth.

Ms King said that there was broad agreement that while boom and bust cycles in resource commodity markets were to be expected, there were concerns that unique circumstances were contributing to market fluctuations in the two commodities.

International prices for resource commodities are not set by the Federal Government and these challenges cannot be solved by the government alone.

The Federal Government said that Australian nickel and lithium resources are produced to high environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, meaning Australia offers more sustainable and ethical critical minerals than many of its competitors.

Following discussions, Ms King, with support from Mr Michael and the Western Australian Government, has resolved to:

  • Accelerate discussions within government on incentivising investment, for example through the taxation system
  • Urgently progress discussions with State and Territory Governments on common user infrastructure for critical minerals to include strategic materials like nickel to complement the Strategic Infrastructure Hubs Scoping Study
  • Engage in further discussions with the Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA about the future of the nickel industry and the role of royalties

For the longer term, to address issues in the market, Ms King has pledged to: 

  • Work with industry players to consider how trading platforms and end users such as electric vehicle manufacturers can better recognise and disclose ESG performance to consumers
  • Use the US-Australia Critical Minerals Taskforce to work towards recognition of common and aligned ESG standards for the sector
  • Finalise the Australia-EU bilateral partnership on sustainable critical and strategic minerals as agreed between the Prime Minister and Presidents von der Leyen and Michel in 2022, with a renewed recognition of the importance of ESG differentiation in the market
  • Ensure ESG standards in international critical minerals markets is a core theme of discussions with like-minded partners, including at the world’s leading resources conference, the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference in Canada in March, and consider policies that may help drive this outcome, including but not limited to Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanisms

Ms King said that Australia’s resources sector deserves the chance to compete fairly in the international market.

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