Environmental activism and government aversion to approvals have seen NSW lose ground to other mining locations in terms of new investment in coal and coal-seam gas developments.
But a long slog by a couple of ASX-listed resources groups, Alkane Resources and Clean TeQ, means it is increasingly looking as if NSW will secure a new global role in the delivery of speciality metals plugged into high-growth green technologies.
The projects come with a combined development price tag of more than $2 billion — $1.3bn at Alkane’s Dubbo zirconia and rare earths project near Dubbo, and Clean TeQ’s $900m Syerston nickel/cobalt and scandium project near Fifield.
The capital cost of the projects is big, but so is their strategic appeal to end users of the metals. At the Dubbo project, it is about breaking China’s dominance of rare earths and other speciality metals markets.
At Syerston it is about offering a sustainable cobalt supply in preference to the major supply that comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, with its slave and child labour issues.
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