Critical minerals are a collection of metal and non-metal commodities considered essential for economic and industrial development, and for which there are significant concerns around future supply due to resource scarcity or geopolitical factors.
Critical minerals are essential for computing, high tech manufacturing, renewable energy generation and storage, transport, telecommunications and defence technologies. Their importance arises from their unique catalytic, metallurgical, nuclear, electrical, magnetic and/or luminescent properties which will play an important part in global decarbonisation.
Whilst global critical mineral demand is growing, the occurrence of critical minerals in South Australia, ranging from graphite to nickel, rare earths, magnesite and platinum group elements amongst many others, are not uniformly understood. The Critical Minerals South Australia (CMSA) project will assess the potential for these elements within mineral deposits, as part of traditional metallic exploration programs.
CMSA focuses on advancing knowledge to support critical minerals discovery and exploration in South Australia. This project complements the Thinking Critical South Australia global competition run by the Department for Energy and Mining which aimed to support the development of a critical minerals supply chain in the state.
CMSA seeks to:
- expand understanding of South Australia’s critical mineral potential.
- identify critical mineral strategy based on an analysis of the economic risk and supply chain, and sovereign risks associated with critical mineral industry.
This will be achieved by:
- Stocktaking of mineralisation styles that produce economic grades of key critical minerals via:
- review and compilation of mineralisation styles for the defined critical minerals using South Australian Drill Core Reference Library samples and historic records.
- re-sampling and re-analysis of existing drill core occurrences from all major projects in the states project pipeline, noting many historically would not have tested for critical mineral content or indicators.
- Compiling and publishing new precompetitive critical mineral geoscience data and information to increase industry and investor understanding of potential.
- Examining the potential for tailings, stockpiles and waste dumps from historic mining operations to host critical mineral content in partnership with University of Queensland, Mine Waste Transformation through Characterisation (MIWATCH).
- Undertaking a detailed economic study to qualify state, national and international drivers, which will influence a material shift to establishing a critical minerals sector and value chain in South Australia, from mining to processing and manufacture.
At Discovery Day 2022 the GSSA’s Dr Bronwyn Camac gave an updated on the Critical Minerals SA project and the GSSA’s plans for the future in this area.
The Geological Survey of South Australia’s Director, Rohan Cobcroft, recently gave a presentation to AusIMM on South Australia's critical minerals strategy for the future.
Download the critical minerals presentation (PDF, 6.7 MB)
The mine waste review has commenced, led by lead researcher Dr Laura Jackson, MIWATCH, University of Queensland.