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Funding doubled for critical minerals but challenges remain

core lithium, asx

The government has pledged to boost funding for critical minerals projects by a further $2 billion.

This brings the critical minerals facility, managed by Export Finance Australia, to a total of $4 billion.

The funding is expected to aid the development of critical minerals projects in Australia, as China tightens in grip on the market. China dominates production of many of the world’s critical minerals, and this year has restricted exports of gallium, germanium, and – as recently as last week – graphite.

Iluka Resources reaped $1.25 billion from the government’s original $2 billion facility for the development of Australia’s first rare earths refinery at Eneabba. Graphite-hopefuls Ecograf and Renascor Resources have also drawn from the facility to progress their graphite projects.

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA (CME) welcomed the latest $2 billion boost, but also called for a material reduction in approval timeframes to brings projects online sooner.

“With an average lead time of seven years for a project to be shovel ready, drawn-out approval timelines and regulatory uncertainty increase risk, and could make projects unviable,” CME chief executive Rebecca Tomkinson said.

Former OZ Minerals executive Luke McFadyen, now managing director of Minerals 260, said support for explorers searching for new critical minerals deposits was paramount.

“New mines… need many years of exploration and investment to occur first,” McFayden said. “We would encourage the government to take a longer-term view on supporting the critical mineral exploration companies, who are the enablers of long-term economic growth and supporters of decarbonisation.”

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