Smartphones could one day have a “made from West Australian mining” tag on them as investors increasingly demand the world’s biggest tech companies be up-front about where they source material from.

Surging interest in ethical minerals was highlighted in a crystal ball-gazing report released by global consultancy firm BDO yesterday predicting trends in Australian mining over the next five years.

That demand could lead to global heavyweights such as Apple and Volkswagen following the food and clothing industry’s lead in introducing source-of-origin labelling to spruik their ethical credentials.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said the State Government was pursuing a WA mining products certification.

“Following consultation with businesses involved with mining and processing of future battery materials, and feedback from my recent trip to Europe, we are now working on a West Australian certification for mining products,” he said.

“The Government has been liaising closely with industry and research organisations to attract investment, facilitate projects, and progress the State’s research and technology sector.”

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief executive Warren Pearce said such a move would benefit WA’s emerging lithium and rare earths miners.

“I don’t think it is that unimaginable to see an Apple iPhone with a little thing on the bottom saying sourced from ethically supplied mining in Western Australia,” he said.

“You will find those companies want to be associated with Australian mining because they know our supply chains are free from some of the types of risk that happen in other countries.

“It is important we start to look at the types of overseas promotional opportunities things like Australian wool have always enjoyed, and put forward a brand which is recognisable as both a quality and ethical product.

“With Australian minerals we have a great position to do that from.”

BDO natural resources global head Sherif Andrawes said manufacturers would look to WA for minerals because of its good reputation.

“A lot of rare earths and commodities like cobalt come from areas where it’s not so clear that it is socially responsible to mine,” he said.

“Particularity for younger users of the likes of iPhones, they are genuinely passionate about making sure they are ethically sourced, so having a WA brand on things could be a great opportunity.”

Mr Andrawes said the industry would increasingly see global tech brands directly invest into mines to secure product supply.


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