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- Australia is looking to grow its critical minerals sector amid the growing global demand for critical metals.
- The demand for critical minerals has been expanding, thanks to the accelerated pace of technological development.
- Various ASX-listed players are actively engaged in exploring and developing several projects that indicate the potential for critical metals.
Australia has substantial potential for important resources, including various critical minerals, which are vital to emerging industries. These critical metals have witnessed a significant spike in their demand over the recent years due to their growing usage across high-tech commercial and personal devices. Various critical metals are used in manufacturing these innovative and technologically advanced devices, including smart devices, batteries, solar panels, electronic items and many more.
The processing of ores of major metals leads to the recovery of these critical metals as a by-product. This means that the concentration of a critical metal is dependent on the deposits and quality of the ore.
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Image Description-Critical Metal Utilisation
Notably, Australia has extraordinary reserves of critical minerals and is the fourth-largest producer of rare earth elements (REE) and contributes roughly half of the lithium produced globally.
Australia seeks to expand its critical minerals sector while expanding downstream processing and support in meeting the upcoming global demand.
Given this backdrop, let's look at five ASX-listed critical minerals producers.
Australian Strategic Materials Limited (ASX:ASM) is actively involved in the production of specialty metals and oxides, which are used in advanced and clean technologies. The company is an emerging critical metals producer for potential growth industries, new technologies and sustainable energy alternatives.
ASM holds and operates the keystone Dubbo Project, which is construction ready, with all significant permits received.
ASM is engaged in progressing metallisation technologies and oxide separation and looks forward to producing metal oxides via the development of the Dubbo Project.
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Image Description-Critical element mining
International mineral sands company Iluka Resources Limited (ASX:ILU) is a pioneer in producing zircon and high-grade titanium dioxide feedstocks, including rutile and synthetic rutile.
ILU aims to deliver sustainable value and has also established a major position in the rare earth elements’ space.
The company boasts industry experience of around 70 years and has expertise in exploration, mining, processing, marketing and rehabilitation activities. ILU executes exploration works on a global level and is actively involved in the rehabilitation of past activities across the US and Australia.
Lynas Rare Earths Limited (ASX:LYC) is the only significant producer across the globe that produces separated RE materials outside of China. LYC’s Mt Weld mine in Western Australia is recognised among the premier RE deposits globally.
LYC is involved in the processing and extraction of RE minerals and operates a single RE processing plant in Malaysia, which is the largest across the globe.
LYC is looking to broaden its industrial footprint through a proposed RE Processing Facility in Western Australia as part of Lynas 2025 growth strategy.
Ionic Rare Earths Limited (ASX:IXR) is engaged in the exploration of heavy RE elements and is focused on advancing its flagship Makuutu Rare Earths Project towards production.
IXR believes that the Makuutu project is an advanced-stage project, which boasts significant exploration potential with access to tier-one infrastructure.
IXR’s Board and management team is engaged in the development of the Makuutu project into production and generate value for various stakeholders.
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Northern Minerals Limited (ASX:NTU) holds a significant landholding and aims to emerge as a significant supplier of sustainably produced rare earth metals. This landholding of NTU is believed to be highly prospective, and NTU’s project portfolio includes the Browns Range Project, John Galt Project and the Boulder Ridge Project.
NTU’s Browns Range Project is the first major dysprosium producer outside of China and indicates a high potential for heavy rare earth mineralisation. The project also suggests the outstanding potential for additional discoveries, and several highly prospective targets can be drill tested.
Australian explorers and producers of critical metals hold significant potential to advance the production of critical minerals and boost the country’s reserves. Since these minerals remain in high demand due to their vast applications across emerging industries, many Australian explorers can capitalise on the continuing critical metal boom.
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