An image of an iron ore mine at Newman in outback Western Australia.

The Western Australian Government has announced that it has refreshed its Battery and Critical Minerals Strategy to support further development of the state’s growing industries.

The State Government said that in addition to changes in the international investment environment, including significant global policy shifts in the critical minerals and renewables industries, Western Australia’s battery and critical minerals industries have grown substantially since the last refresh in 2020.

The refreshed strategy outlines the Western Australian Government’s vision to continue to grow the state’s industry into 2030.

It aims to further develop the Western Australia’s industries to contribute to global decarbonisation efforts, diversify the state’s economy and deliver meaningful outcomes for regional and Aboriginal communities.

The current near-term priority actions for the Western Australian Government include:

  • Creating a more efficient approvals system
  • Planning and investing in common user infrastructure
  • Targeted support for strategically important projects

The Western Australian Government said that since the first Future Battery Industry Strategy was launched in 2019, production of critical minerals has grown and sales for copper, cobalt, nickel and lithium have increased from $6.1 billion to $22 billion in 2023.

The refresh is supported by the State Government’s new $500 million Strategic Industries Fund, which is expected to be used to prepare land for future industrial projects ensuring Western Australia is primed for sustainable growth and development.

Funded as part of the 2024-25 State Budget, the investment will deliver common-user and other enabling infrastructure at Strategic Industrial Areas (SIAs) across regional and metropolitan Western Australia.

New data from the Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety shows that in 2023, employment in the sector was at record levels and sales on production were at a near-record of $248 billion for the calendar year.

The Western Australian Government invested $36.4 million as part of the 2024-24 State Budget, aimed at speeding up approvals for job-creating projects by boosting resourcing of Western Australia’s approvals framework. This is expected to ensure proponents, stakeholders and government agencies receive decisions in a timely manner.

Western Australian Premier, Roger Cook, said, “Since 2015, there has been more than $9 billion of investment in Western Australia’s critical minerals processing industries.

“Critical minerals are the centrepiece of Western Australia’s economic diversification story and we are working to position our state as a major global leader in downstream processing.”

Mr Cook said that the refreshed strategy was developed through consultation with key stakeholders and received more than 50 submissions following a public discussion paper released in 2023.

“It sets out key actions to further grow investment in the sector by playing to Western Australia’s strengths, to maximise outcomes for Western Australians.

“Right now, our priorities are a more efficient approvals system, planning and investment in common‑user infrastructure and targeted support for strategically important projects.

“My government has now invested $500 million in a new Strategic Industries Fund to unlock the industrial land we need to get major clean energy and job-creating projects off the ground.

“We are also investing in the development of a future Critical Minerals Advanced Processing (CMAP) common-user facility for further mineral processing opportunities.”

Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum, David Michael, said, “I’m pleased that Western Australia’s resources sector continues to perform strongly notwithstanding the market challenges faced by the nickel and lithium industries.

“The sector achieved another record level of employment with an average of 130,165 full-time equivalents in 2023, reflecting strong levels of mining and construction activity in the state.

“Our gold miners recorded all-time high sales of $20 billion on the back of soaring prices for the precious metal and iron ore put in another solid performance with sales of $139 billion on the back of production of 860 million tonnes, the second highest level for a single calendar year or financial year.

“Western Australia’s mineral exploration expenditure continues to grow, reaching $2.6 billion in 2023, the highest value on record.”

Industry response
Those in the industry have welcomed the refreshed Battery and Critical Minerals Strategy, with some also highlighting other changes they would like to see to promote future investment in the sector.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies’ Chief Executive, Warren Pearce, said, “It makes sense to refresh the critical minerals strategy as the industry evolves and market conditions change.

“It shows the priority the Western Australian Government places on critical minerals, with some other states yet to even release a critical minerals strategy.”

Mr Pearce said, however, that more action is required in order for Western Australia to realise its vision.

“We need to further streamline the regulatory approvals processes, to enable mineral exploration and mining projects to be developed in a time efficient and cost-effective manner.”

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Rebecca Tomkinson, said that it’s important for state and federal government policies to be refreshed to reflect the industry’s current operating environment, including changes in external factors such as geopolitical tensions, market volatility and patterns of consumer demand.

“Western Australia has the resources, operational stability and ESG credentials to deliver what the world needs for its energy future but, like any business, we need to be agile and competitive and to do that, we need governments to deliver on their pledges.

“A more efficient approvals system means greater certainty for businesses looking to invest and works to improve Australia’s competitive position. It’s encouraging to see this commitment supported by $36.4 million in the State Budget and specified in the strategy update. From here, we’re looking forward to the practical application of that commitment.”

Image credit: Edward Haylan/


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