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Kallanish Kallanish

Knowledge matters Knowledge matters

August, 1st 2021

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JUN 04
13:31

Australia in ‘strong position’ to benefit from mining demand boom

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Australia’s mining sector is in the “box seat” to meet growing global commodity demand to power growth, energy generation and decarbonisation, according to the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA).

The mining trade body commissioned a report on the outlook for commodities demand in 2030, delivered by consultants Commodity Insights last week. It outlines the medium-term prospects for key battery minerals produced by Australia such as lithium, nickel, copper and rare earth elements, Kallanish reports.

According to the report, global demand for lithium will rise rapidly from 313,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) in 2019 to 1.46 million t by 2030 – that’s a growth of 368% over the period.

Western Australia is home to the world’s largest mine, Greenbushes, and the largest lithium refinery once completed, under development by Albemarle. MCA says Australia is “the world’s largest lithium producer with four mines,” at a rate of 233,000 tonnes, generating $1.1 billion of export revenues in 2020. The country is estimated to hold the 2nd largest EDR (economic demonstrated resources) of lithium in the globe (29%).

The report estimates demand for nickel will rise 67% from 2.4m t in 2019 to 3.9m t in 2030. Last year, Australia was the 6th largest nickel producer in the world, producing 169,000 t. The country is home for 24% of the world’s nickel resources estimated at 21.2m t, and has the largest EDR of nickel, according to the report.

Global demand for refined copper is forecast to grow steadily from 23.5m t in 2019 to 31.1m t in 2030. With over 40 operating copper mines, Australia produced in 2019-20 some 885,000 t of copper. The country attracted $333m in exploration expenditure last year, targeting the 93m t resources estimated.

The outlook for rare earth elements estimates demand for neodymium to increase from 31,000 t in 2020 to around 54,000-66,000 t in 2030. Australia is the world’s 4th largest producer of REE, producing 23,000 t last year. An opportunity for the country is that the growing global supply chain are increasingly demanding sustainably sourced resources. Yet, a risk remains access to project finance to catch up competition from China.

“Australians are rightly proud of a mining sector which makes a huge contribution to the nation while extracting and processing minerals safely and responsibly,” says the MCA. “This report shows that Australians can be equally confident of a positive outlook on the future demand for our world-class minerals.”

Gabriela Farhangi UK