Iron ore asset aerial view

Minerals demand could deliver $20 billion of new investment each year in Australia

Australia could almost double its critical minerals investment pipeline to nearly $20 billion (AUD) per year if it lifts production to equal its share of global reserves in critical minerals including copper and nickel, according to a new report by BHP.

BHP today released the Recapturing Australia’s Competitiveness report, aimed at creating a national conversation on competitiveness to support Australia’s future prosperity, and bringing industry and government together to work on a policy agenda that is “positive, productive, ambitious and actionable”.

The report identifies the opportunities and challenges for the Australian economy, with particular focus on the mining sector as a long-standing economic strength that has helped give Australia one of the highest GDPs per capita of any major country and underpinned standout economic performance through the global financial crisis and other recent downturns.

More than 17 million individual Australians own a part of the Australian mining sector directly or via their superannuation holdings. The Australian mining industry generates hundreds of billions of dollars in export revenues, taxes and royalties each year, pays the highest wages in the country and supports more than 1 million Australian jobs including the highest rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment.

Unlocking the future potential of Australia’s mining sector

The Recapturing Australia’s Competitiveness report notes that achieving the aims of the Paris Agreement will require the rapid and widespread deployment of clean energy technologies like renewable energy, nuclear power, battery storage and electric vehicles.

This transformation will only be possible through the scaling up of mineral production – with estimates suggesting up to 140 new copper mines, 60 new nickel mines, 50 new lithium mines and 17 new cobalt mines will be needed by 2030 alone.

The capital investment required to unlock this production will be significant – estimated at an additional US$100 billion per year – but global competition for this capital is intense and growing, and seizing its share of critical minerals investment will support Australia’s future economic prosperity.

If Australia were to increase its production of the commodities central to the energy transition, this could deliver up to $20 billion (AUD) in annual investment for years to come – supporting high-paying jobs in regional and remote areas, and new opportunities for Indigenous participation.

The report identifies four key pillars required to deliver on this potential opportunity:

  • Stable and globally competitive policy, regulatory and fiscal settings – critical for attracting and retaining investment in Australia.
  • Robust, transparent and streamlined permitting – led by a new risk-based approach to permitting with a focus on speed to decision – without reducing the bar.
  • Best-in-class enabling infrastructure – essential for unlocking existing mining basins and developing new ones, which are often in remote areas.
  • A world-class METS sector and workforce of the future – to ensure Australia has the skills and capabilities required for the systems of the future.

Comments attributable to BHP President Australia Geraldine Slattery

“Australia has a huge opportunity to capitalise on major change in the world economy driven by the megatrends of decarbonisation, electrification and population growth – but we must be ready and able to compete in the global arena.”

“Many countries are endowed with vast quantities of minerals essential to decarbonisation, and Australia’s global competitors are implementing ambitious policies and investing in technology and skills to capture their share of new capital investment, talent and supply chains.”

“Australia needs to encourage major investment in the people, technology and skills required to create a diverse modern economy. More efficient assessment and permitting for major projects, strategic infrastructure and a stable policy environment will encourage global capital to flow to Australia’s shores.”

“Recapturing Australia’s Competitiveness is a proposal for government and industry to work together on a policy agenda that is positive, productive, ambitious, and actionable. It is about acknowledging the reality of our present situation, recognising the urgency of the task, and determining a plan for action. We hope this is the beginning of a conversation about how Australia can get ahead and stay ahead.”

Read the Recapturing Australia’s Competitiveness report in full.