Mining companies in the West are facing two overarching challenges in trying to produce enough metals to enable the energy transition, and at the same time build alternative supply chains to lessen their dependence on China.
The problem is that there is a vast gulf between the scale of the ambition and the reality of what’s actually happening, and what’s likely to happen in the next few years.
This gap was the hidden theme at this week’s International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Sydney, that brings together miners, investors and government policymakers. There is little doubt that Australia is a country well-placed to play a major role in supplying many of the metals vital to the energy transition.
It is already the world’s largest producer of lithium and iron ore, the key raw material for steel. It is also a top supplier of copper, nickel and zinc and has proven reserves of other critical minerals such as cobalt and rare earths.