Critical minerals hub to push Dubbo into elite high-tech race

Deputy Premier Paul Toole launches the plan for a new critical minerals research, development and mining hub in Dubbo on Monday.
Deputy Premier Paul Toole launches the plan for a new critical minerals research, development and mining hub in Dubbo on Monday.

Dubbo will be the centre of a new research and development hub for critical minerals used in high-tech applications.

Minerals will be sourced from local mining operations while other minerals will be brought to Dubbo for research on applications, the NSW Government announced.

It will be the first hub of its type in Australia and will focus on minerals such as copper, cobalt and nickel.

Deputy Premier, and Minister Responsible for Resources, Paul Toole, said critical minerals and high-tech metals such as cobalt, nickel and copper will play a vital role in making NSW the number one investment destination for mining and advanced manufacturing.

"Critical minerals are just that - minerals that are critical to the manufacture of everything from electric vehicles to solar technologies and for which there are no ready substitutes," he said.

"This Strategy delivers a clear vision to provide a key source of economic growth, diversify the NSW royalty base and create the advanced manufacturing jobs of the future in regional NSW.

"There is a global race on to locate, develop and establish secure supply chains of these minerals and metals.

"This Strategy will ensure NSW is in the box-seat to meet this demand," said Mr Toole.

Critical minerals can be found around Dubbo.

Critical minerals can be found around Dubbo.

Mr Toole said the Critical Minerals Hub was an Australian-first.

"(It will) set NSW apart as a premier destination for investment in antimony, cobalt, copper, titanium, rare earths and zirconium projects as demand for critical minerals increases exponentially in the next 40 years.

"The Hub in the Central West will be a focal point for the development of this industry, including value-added processing, located close to existing, approved and potential mining developments.

"The hub could accommodate domestic e-waste recycling for eastern Australia, as well as the importation of e-waste from the Indo-Pacific region, so we can recover and recycle critical minerals alongside the exploration and mining of new resources.

"It will build on existing investments at the Parkes Special Activation Precinct as well as the $3 billion investment in Australia's first Renewable Energy Zone, which is centred around the Dubbo, Wellington and Mudgee regions.

"This demonstrates the commitment by the NSW Government to support mining and advanced manufacturing as we diversify the State's economy towards a lower carbon future," said Mr Toole.


Member for Dubbo, Dugald Saunders, said the strategy is a significant step forward for many key sites across regional NSW.

"This is a really important part of securing future jobs and prosperity in the Dubbo area, as we look towards new types of industry and manufacturing in the Central West," he said.

"Dubbo itself is the centre of the critical minerals activity in the region, and is the natural hub to provide many of the ongoing services which will be needed."

The strategy includes further geological surveys to deliver more quality pre-competitive data for explorers, investigating the potential for copper production and other downstream processing opportunities for critical minerals, and providing assistance to mining projects to navigate planning and approval processes.

Critical minerals include:

  • Cobalt: a key component in super-alloys for jet engines and lithium ion batteries that power mobile phones and electric cars
  • Tungsten: used in making high performance steels and is the material that makes phones vibrate
  • Titanium: has applications in surgical tools, prosthetics and implants, and is strong, light and corrosion resistant
  • Copper: crucial for wiring to connect solar farms, wind turbines and in electric motors
  • Rare earths: like neodymium form a component of powerful magnets used in generators, mobile phone speakers and microphones - also used in telecommunications and other high-tech medical and defence applications

The Government said the "appeal of more cost-effective, efficient and secure supply chains will give confidence to explorers, mining companies, and investors to set up and operate in NSW."

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