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Federal Government critical minerals funding plan should include battery recycling

27 October 2023 – The Association for the Battery Recycling Industry (ABRI) has welcomed the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s announcement the Federal Government will invest another $2 billion into mining and processing of critical minerals.

But ABRI President Nicholas Assef has called on the Federal Government to formally commit to supporting the battery recycling value chain by explicitly including Australian companies in the program.

“Including battery recycling would be a major boost for the industry and assist the Federal Government deliver on its critical minerals objectives,” Mr Assef said.

The funding plan was announced by Mr Albanese ahead of the first roundtable meeting of the Australia-United States Taskforce on Critical Minerals, held in Washington and attended by Australian and American industry leaders, and Australia’s Resources Minister Madeleine King.

Mr Assef said critical minerals can come from two sources – raw materials or recycling – and the recycling opportunity should not be ignored when both funding and tax breaks are considered.

“When critical minerals are sourced from recycling there are multiple benefits – including both lower greenhouse gas emissions and an opportunity to develop sovereign technology capabilities,” he said.

“In the next 10 years, estimates suggest 40% of the world’s cobalt needs could come from recycled minerals. Australia needs to invest today in critical minerals recovery technology – as other leading nations are”

Mr Albanese announced the funding program during his trip to Washington in the United States – he wants Australia to develop stronger ties with the US to attract investment into the industry domestically.

Mr Albanese said the finance boost would help facilitate the transition to a decarbonised economy while attracting investment from American companies hungry to tap into Australia’s vast resource deposits.

It is also aimed at reducing reliance on China, which has traditionally enjoyed a near-monopoly on the production and control of some of the valuable minerals.

“We want to move Australia up the international value chain in critical minerals, energy and manufacturing,” Mr Albanese said.

The $2 billion will be used to fund loans to mine and process critical minerals.

Mr Assef said as original equipment manufacturers strive to meet ESG, net zero and circular economy commitments, recycled materials would become highly valued.

“ABRI is being approached by government and overseas investors keen to draw on Australia’s metallurgical expertise,” Mr Assef said.

“ABRI members are leading the way in developing exportable technology to recover materials from batteries. Additional prioritised investment in this area delivers the opportunity of technology leadership – but the window for that investment is now.”