What coal and iron minerals were to the industrial revolution in the eighteenth century is now critical and rare earth metals to the digital revolution. The coal-powered steam engines and steel made of iron made European and the United States global superpowers. It turned villages into towns and towns into cities. Mass production and mass consumption provided a base for their development.
Similarly, the 21st century’s development will be decided on the basis of the fact that who controls the era’s production resources. As we are moving into the 4th industrial revolution where electronics, information technology, and automation are the foundational pillars of growth, it becomes once again important that those who control the resources of production will lead the world.
Breaking Chinese Monopoly in Rare Earth
Most of the new-age technological products like chips, batteries, mobile phones, and other connectivity products are made of rare earth or critical minerals. In the production of rare earth minerals, China with about 61% is the global leader. Followed by the US, Myanmar, and Australia. This mass production of rare earth has made China a global superpower in the manufacturing of new-age digital products.
Due to its dominance in new-age product manufacturing, China becomes an important player in world politics. So, it becomes very important to save the new age world order from the dominance of China and break its monopoly on the new age production line. And, the new India-Australia partnership in critical minerals will be instrumental in breaking this monopoly.
On July 4, 2022, Australia announced to partner with India for critical minerals production and has committed to invest Australian $5.8 million in India-Australia Critical Minerals Investment Partnership for three years. The announcement has been made following the visit of India’s Coal and Mines Minister, Pralhad Joshi to Australia.
Australia would commit A$5.8 million to the three-year India-Australia Critical Minerals Investment Partnership: Australia
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) July 4, 2022
Further, signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Critical Mineral Facilitation Office (CMFO) Australia for the supply of Critical and Strategic Minerals, the minister said, “The MoU includes joint due diligence in Lithium and Cobalt mineral assets of Australia. Both CMFO and the Indian JV KABIL (Joint Venture Khanij Bidesh India Limited) will jointly fund the due diligence process with an initial total amount of US$6 million. Once the due diligence is completed and potential projects are identified, we will explore investment opportunities through different methods as envisaged in the MoU”.
The cooperation of India and Australia in the production of lithium and cobalt will be instrumental in increasing India’s manufacturing base in the production of new-age technologies such as batteries, electric vehicles, mobile phones, and robotics products. Further, a cooperation plan of Australian $5 million in critical mineral production will help India to create an alternate manufacturing market for new-age technological products.
The Australia-India partnership will break China’s monopoly
This critical-minerals partnership will prove to be a groundbreaking partnership in the history of geopolitics. It has the capacity to balance out the dominance of China in futuristic technologies. Deriving the global market of Rare Earths Elements, China’s dominance will not last long.
Australia ranks top five in the production of critical minerals like antimony, cobalt, lithium, manganese ore, niobium, tungsten, and vanadium. Also, Australia is the world’s top producer of lithium and rutile, and the second-largest producer of zircon and rare earth elements.
The importance of rare earth elements and other critical minerals is due to their unique catalytic, metallurgical, nuclear, electrical, magnetic, and luminescent properties. The growing significance of these minerals is in the manufacture of mobile phones and computers, flat-screen monitors, wind turbines, electric cars, solar panels, rechargeable batteries, defence-industry technology, and products.
Till now, the world is totally dependent on China for these minerals and the products made thereof. Changing geopolitics and the conflicting relationship of Australia with China have created a new world order against China. The regrouping started against China is not only in security concerns but the supply chain of critical products is also serving the alignment.
The announced critical mineral cooperation between Australia and India will ensure that China does not become the eighteenth-century America and the aim of a multilateral world remains intact. Australian expertise in mineral production and India’s large manufacturing base will smash the dominance of China.
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