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Albanese’s big punt on minerals moves us closer to being super power

Australia is one step closer to becoming a renewable energy superpower as the Albanese government offers hundreds of millions in loans to boost the critical minerals sector.

Apr 17, 2024, updated Apr 17, 2024

The nation’s first high-purity alumina processing facility will be established in Queensland after Labor earmarked $400 million in loans to Australian company Alpha HPA.

Not only will it allow Australia to process alumina, which is used in lithium-ion batteries – like those in electric cars – and semiconductors, the Gladstone facility is expected to create 490 jobs during construction and another 200 on completion.

The announcement comes after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s detailed his Future Made in Australia plan to promote local manufacturing and safeguard the nation’s control over resources and critical minerals.

“The global race for new jobs and new opportunities is on,” he said on Wednesday.

“Our government wants Australia to be in it to win it.”

The government has also conditionally approved $185 million for Renascor Resources to help fast-track stage one of its Siviour Graphite Project in South Australia to deliver purified graphite – also used in lithium-ion batteries required for renewable technologies.

Stage one of the project will create 150 construction jobs and 125 jobs once operational in Arno Bay on the Eyre Peninsula, while the second stage is expected to create a further 225 construction jobs and more than 120 positions once it’s operational in Bolivar, near Port Adelaide.

Resources Minister Madeleine King said the projects would help diversify global supply chains and lower emissions around the world.

“The road to net zero runs through Australia’s resources sector,” she said.

“Australia’s critical minerals and rare earths are key to building renewable technologies such solar panels, batteries and wind farms, as well as defence and medical technologies.”

The federal government’s manufacturing push has been likened to the Inflation Reduction Act in the US, which provides US$624 billion worth of funding to accelerate America’s transition to net-zero emissions.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers is expected to make further announcements on May 14 when he unveils the federal budget.

The Future Made in Australia plan has been criticised by business groups, who claim it could make companies reliant on government subsidies.

Dr Chalmers said it was aimed at incentivising private investment, not replacing it.

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