Transforming Australia’s Critical Minerals Sector

  • Joint media release with:
  • The Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister
  • The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Treasurer
  • The Hon. Keith Pitt MP, Minister for Resources and Water
04 April 2022

The Australian Government today approved a $1.25 billion loan through the Critical Minerals Facility to Australian company Iluka Resources, to develop Australia’s first integrated rare earths refinery in Western Australia.

The refinery will produce separated rare earth oxide products (Praseodymium, Dysprosium, Neodymium and Terbium), which are used in permanent magnets in a wide range of technologies, including electric vehicles, clean energy generation and defence.

The Eneabba Refinery Project strongly aligns with the objectives of the Government’s Critical Minerals Strategy. It will capture more value on-shore from our critical minerals, strengthen Australia’s position as a trusted supplier of critical minerals, and create regional jobs crucial for the new energy economy.

This loan builds on our Government’s support for the critical minerals sector to help realise our vision of becoming a global critical minerals powerhouse by 2030.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the announcement represented a decisive step forward in rare earths production and processing in Australia.

“Australia has the best resource industry in the world and we have an unrivalled competitive-edge when it comes to being a reliable, sustainable provider of critical minerals and rare earths,” the Prime Minister said. 

“Our support for this project will capitalise on our advantages, helping to strengthen Australia’s critical minerals supply chain while also creating huge job and economic opportunities for Australians for generations to come.

“Australia’s critical minerals are in demand because they are the key input for everything from mobile phones to fighter jets, not to mention the technologies of the future that haven’t even been realised yet.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the project would help secure Australia’s manufacturing capability, unlocking a new generation of high-wage, high-skill, high tech jobs.

“Building a modern manufacturing sector and securing our sovereign capability is a key part of our plans for a stronger economy and a stronger future for Australia,” the Treasurer said.

“Australia’s critical minerals sector and the job-creating industries that rely on it are being supercharged under the Morrison Government’s $2.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy.”

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said the project would promote Australia as a reliable and trusted supplier of oxides.

“The Morrison Government is advancing Australia’s position as a world leader in the critical minerals sector,” Minister Tehan said.

“Our Government is supporting businesses to invest in projects in regional Australia, create jobs and meet the global appetite for critical minerals.

“We are working with our trading partners to help facilitate partnerships between Australian critical mineral project proponents and potential sources of offtake and investment.”

Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt said the project would help Australia increase its sovereign critical minerals processing capacity, potentially underpinning new industries and applications.

“The facility could supply up to nine per cent of the global rare earth oxide market when it comes online. It will initially use the Eneabba Stockpile – one of the highest-grade sources of rare earth elements in the world,” Minister Pitt said.

“The refinery is also designed to process concentrate from many other deposits across Australia, making it a natural hub and reducing the capital required to bring other projects online.”

This loan will be administered by Export Finance Australia and is the third project under the Government’s Critical Minerals Facility to be announced.

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