EU and Australia sign partnership on sustainable critical and strategic minerals

Valdis Dombrovskis @VDombrovskis

The EU and Australia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish bilateral cooperation on sustainable critical and strategic minerals. Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis, and Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton on behalf of the EU, and Resources and Northern Australia Minister Madeleine King and Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell on behalf of Australia, signed the MoU. 

This partnership aims to achieve common objectives and mutual benefits, including diversifying the EU’s supplies of materials necessary for green and digital transitions and contributing to the development of Australia’s domestic critical minerals sector. The partnership covers the entire critical and strategic minerals value chain, including exploration, extraction, processing, refining, recycling, and processing of extractive waste.

The partnership between the EU and Australia is a testament to their shared commitment to environmental sustainability. It aims to jointly develop projects across the entire value chain in regions and other countries where mutual interests exist. The focus is on reducing environmental impacts, benefiting local communities, and promoting innovative and digital technologies and services for mining and other projects related to critical minerals. 

The MoU aims to enhance cooperation between Australia and the EU in integrating sustainable raw materials value chains, advance research and innovation along these chains, and promote high environmental, social, and governance standards and practices with improved policy alignment.

After signing the MoU, the EU and Australia are poised to establish secure and sustainable value chains for critical and strategic minerals. These value chains will support clean energy, digital transitions, and key industrial sectors like defence and aerospace. 

The EU’s strategic use of its free trade agreements to strengthen trade and investment connections, diversify supply chains, and boost its economy’s resilience, especially in critical raw materials supply chains, underscores the importance of this partnership. The EU already has trade agreements with 74 countries, including recent ones with the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Chile, focusing on Energy and Raw Materials. Negotiations are ongoing for an EU-Australia free trade agreement. 

Recognising the importance of critical raw materials for green and digital transitions, the Commission is forming partnerships on raw materials, following the Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials and the Critical Raw Materials Act. Agreements have been signed with Canada and Ukraine in 2021, with Kazakhstan and Namibia in 2022, and with Argentina, Chile, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Greenland in 2023. The EU plans Agreements with Rwanda, Norway, and Uzbekistan in 2024. Following the MoU signing, the EU and Australia will develop a roadmap with specific actions to implement the Strategic Partnership over the next six months.

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