“[The EU and Australia] are committed to globally diversified, transparent and de-risked markets, to support sustainably and ethically sourced critical minerals, adhering to the highest environmental, social and governance standards,” the joint statement said.

Australian miners would need to secure billions of dollars to open more critical minerals mines and establish processing facilities to compete with China.

“Processing is really a good example where we need additional investments and that brings me to the benefits of an FTA [free trade agreement] because if we will reach an agreement, this helps us to remove excessive investment screening and to scale up the processing,” Simson said.

“The business environment here [in Australia] and the predictability of the legislation is a strong asset.”

“If we will triple the deployment of renewables by the end of this decade, it creates immense business opportunities and we have to make sure that we have access to the critical materials that allow us also to participate in the clean tech side of the green transition.”


Simson said the EU was willing to reopen negotiations on a fair trade agreement, but the deal hit an impasse in October. Both jurisdictions refused to budge on demands for farm exports. Australia wants to export more red meat but this is opposed by powerful agriculture lobby groups in member countries like France, Poland and Ireland.

Negotiations became more important for Australia in March, when the EU and US started work on a plan to kick-start European processing of critical minerals.

US President Joe Biden and EU President Ursula von der Leyen said in a joint statement that the deal would enable critical minerals either mined or processed in Europe and used in the US to make electric vehicles would qualify for the US’ generous tax credit scheme the Inflation Reduction Act, which analysts expect to deliver more than $1 trillion in subsidies for green technology.

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