Australia could potentially tap into the emerging global market for critical materials, which are vital for diverse uses such as digital technologies, renewable energy and defence systems, according to Perth USAsia Centre’s Research Director Dr Jeffrey Wilson.


“As rare earth minerals have become a factor in the US-China trade war, the world has realised developing more secure supplies from Western Australia is a major imperative,” Dr Wilson said.


The statement comes in the lead up to the In the Zone Conference: Critical Materials Securing Indo-Pacific Technology Futures being held on Tuesday October 8, co-hosted by the Perth USAsia Centre and The University of Western Australia, and supported by Rio Tinto, as the event’s Premier Corporate Partner.


“Unfortunately, current value chains for critical materials are unsustainable and insecure, with many contributing to environmental degradation and unfair labour practices,” Dr Wilson said.


In the Zone is now in its 10th year, and serves as the State’s premier forum on questions of regional significance for the Indo-Pacific. Previous iterations covered issues such as agriculture and maritime security, with last year’s conference exploring all things space.


The conference will bring together leaders in the industry including Lynas Corporation CEO Amanda Lacaze, Minerals Council of Australia CEO Tania Constable PSM and Pilbara Minerals CEO Ken Brinsden. They will be joined by policy leaders, WA Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Energy The Hon Bill Johnston, Australian Minister for Finance Senator The Hon Mathias Cormann, as well as WA Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation Director General Rebecca Brown. 


“The Conference is designed to showcase what Western Australia can offer to help secure the Indo-Pacific’s technology future, highlighting the importance of critical materials for modern telecommunication, science, defence and digital networks,” Dr Wilson said.


Representatives from Indo-Pacific partners will also present on the day, including Japan Bank for International Cooperation Governor Tadashi Maeda, Beijing Antaike Chief Analyst Xu Aidong and Singapore Stock Exchange Vice President and Director, Equity Capital Markets, Global Sales and Origination Foong Chong Lek.


“Increasing our role within the critical materials industry offers new opportunities for job creation and international partnerships in Western Australia’s mining and advancing manufacturing industries,” Dr Wilson said.


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