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Australia 'can't afford to wait' to develop itself into critical minerals superpower


The world cannot afford for Australia to delay development as a critical minerals supplier, an international mining conference has been told.

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Calling out “misinformation”, federal opposition resources spokeswoman Susan McDonald warned delegates that the future of the sector is at risk if anti-mining sentiment is allowed to flourish.

“Because if you stay silent, the vacuum will be filled by these anti-mining voices, and it won’t just be coal or gas or oil that will be targeted, it will be the whole resources sector,” she said in Brisbane on Monday.

Given the urgency of bringing critical minerals projects and new refineries online, there is no time to delay because of red tape or rhetoric, she said.

“The world cannot afford for Australia to not be a developed critical minerals supplier,” said Senator McDonald.

“It is worth noting that the boom of the critical minerals sector will not replace the strength or success of traditional resources.

“Commodities like coal, iron ore and gas will remain vital for decades into the future.”

The four-day forum that opened on Monday brings together top researchers, politicians, diplomats, consultants and company bosses from around the world.

Hosted by national science agency CSIRO, the congress will explore how to more sustainably find and produce the minerals needed for global decarbonisation.

Critically, the industry must reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions even as it expands to meet surging demand for electric cars, solar panels, wind turbines and batteries.

More than 3000 delegates will attend the event after CSIRO mining expert and 26th congress chair Hua Guo led Australia’s bid for the event in 2016.

Held in Australia for the first time, Dr Guo said the United Nations-affiliated event brings together people who can “re-imagine mining” to resource the world for the future, and benefit society.

“We have gathered the greatest minds in mining around the world, the influential companies, the smartest inventors, the most progressive investors and thousands of passionate delegates,” he said.

Experts from Australia, Canada and Mongolia will bring First Nations voices on how to repair a site when a mine reaches the end of its life.

More sustainable construction materials and a 30-year framework for a critical mineral supply chain will also feature on day one.

For those wanting gadgets and gizmos, there is an exhibition hall featuring the latest in automated underground coal mining and preparations for moon mining.

But security is tight around the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, with protests expected.

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