Queensland is rich in many of the critical minerals needed to produce the clean energy and renewables of tomorrow. The Queensland Resources Council acknowledges that the road to meeting the global demand for these minerals is complex. There needs to be a more effective approach to:

  • Exploration 
  • Discovery 
  • Development of new critical minerals supply chains

The importance of Environmental, Social, and (Corporate) Governance (ESG) credentials to the market also mean the provenance or supply chain journey of a mineral will become fundamental as its quality says Queensland Chief Geologist, Tony Knight

He recently contributed to Forbes and in this GRT article, we evaluate critical minerals, their importance, ESG criteria, and its importance and state the 7 key points raised in his feedback in relation to the future of clean energy and renewables in Queensland. 

What are critical minerals and why are there important? 

Critical minerals are metals and non-metals that are considered vital for the economic well-being of the world’s major and emerging economies. They include rare earth elements and other metals such as:

  • Lithium
  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Cobalt
  • Nickel
  • Indium
  • Tellurium
  • Gallium
  • Graphite
  • Manganese

Critical minerals are a strategic area for governments, corporates, business leaders, and the world at large as they are fundamental to the future clean energy and renewables economy. Critical minerals are in increased global demand and needed to support important manufacturing sectors such as:

Are environmental regulations, health and safety concerns or potential profit loss a concern right now?

  • Communication technology
  • Aerospace
  • National security
  • Low carbon 
  • Digital economy

What is ESG criteria and why is it important?

ESG criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature. Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. (Corporate) Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights. In a recent trend notably in younger generations, investors have, in recent years, shown interest in putting their money where their values are. We expand more on the ESG criteria and their importance: 

Environmental – criteria may include a company’s energy use, waste pollution, natural resource conservation, and treatment of animals. All these affect how Queensland would position itself in the critical minerals journey. Without responsible Earth Stewardship in the pit to port activities for mining of critical minerals, the E of the ESG criteria is not met. 

Social – it is important to foster value-driven business relationships with suppliers and any other role players in the value chain. Does the company donate a percentage of its profits to the local community where the critical minerals are being mined or encourage skills and knowledge transfer within the community? Do the critical mineral mine workers working conditions show high regard for health and safety? These are some of the questions that need to be answered for the S of the ESG criteria.

Governance – investors may want to know that a company uses accurate and transparent accounting methods and that stockholders are allowed to vote on important issues. This goes with the need for assurances that companies avoid conflict of interest in their choice of board members. These issues constitute the G of the ESG criteria. 

What are the 7 key points from Tony Knight’s feedback to Forbes?

Key point 1

“There’s no doubt we’re going to see a substantial change in the way we find and process minerals to minimize our carbon and water footprint,”

Key point 2

“This wholescale modernization will require a change to the economics-first approach, whereby profit is the key and only driver. We have a global problem that resources are running out, even as the population is rising dramatically. Demands will grow, while the planet cannot. That means a shift to minimize what we take, and to maximize what we can put back.”

Key point 3

“Purity of ore can’t just entail chemical composition. It needs to describe whether it was sourced from an unethical part of the world or at huge expense to the environment. That provenance story is becoming mainstream for products such as food and also clothing. The mineral sector needs to be part of the societal transition.”

Key point 4

“For a long time, we focused on ‘what we supply’,” said Tony. “The ‘how we supply it’ piece is incredibly important these days. That’s what will differentiate suppliers into the future. We’re seeing greater urgency to trace where a product came from and then track its journey into second life within the circular economy. This will eventually become business as usual, but the early-moving jurisdictions, industries or sectors will stand to benefit from the short-term price differential.”

Key point 5

“We’ll see technologies introduced to make manufactured goods easier to recycle and new industries arise from the opportunity to recycle minerals. It feels inevitable that governments will demand better use of minerals, moving from a linear to a circular economy,”

Key point 6

“The mineral sector will take time to let go of the economic imperative, which obviously can’t be abandoned entirely,”

Key point 7

“We have to recognize that payback periods can’t be as short as they used to be. We need more patient capital to get these cycles running properly.”


There is no better place to ethically source these high-quality critical minerals than in Queensland. Its state’s resources sector operates under world-leading environmental, social and health and safety regulations. That is what investors are looking for, and that’s what Queensland’s resource companies can offer. Queensland’s critical mineral resources are the future. 


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