Apr 19, 2022 | Federal News, Scott Morrison

The Morrison Government is committed to boosting Western Australia’s status as a global resources and energy powerhouse by investing in regional areas, growing export opportunities and creating more jobs to build a strong economy for a stronger future.

Two new hydrogen hubs will be created in the Pilbara and Kwinana (Perth) and will receive $140 million, as well $6 million to investigate two new development projects in Western Australia, creating more than 3,600 jobs, and $67 million to develop two carbon capture and storage hubs and support the appraisal of a third potential storage site in WA.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Government would also boost Western Australia’s critical minerals sector by investing almost $8 million in two strategically critical projects, securing more jobs and important supply chain industries.

“Securing Western Australia’s economy is absolutely critical to locking in stronger future for Australia and my Government will continue to back the resource, mining, mineral and energy sector in WA by creating more jobs and cutting red tape,” the Prime Minister said.

“Western Australia is a world leader in critical minerals and these investments are just the beginning of our commitment to the sector, alongside our new hydrogen hubs, which backs in the state’s status as an economic powerhouse for the whole country.

“These investments will also turbocharge the development of Australia’s critical minerals and clean hydrogen industries, helping achieve the government’s vision to make Australia a global producer and exporter of clean hydrogen by 2030, while stimulating a surge in regions across WA.”

Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt said the Critical Minerals Accelerator Initiative will help fast-track strategically significant projects to market and drive investment.

“It is another step towards establishing Australia as a critical minerals powerhouse,” Minister Pitt said.

“Australia possesses extraordinary reserves of critical minerals crucial to many industries including medical equipment production, defence, aerospace, automotive and agritech.

“The Critical Minerals Accelerator Initiative is yet another example of how this Government is backing the resources sector to strengthen our national economy and create jobs, especially in regional Australia.

“This initiative will help uncover new sources of supply, support robust supply chains, and create high-paying regional jobs for Australians, while improving Australia’s export resilience.”

Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the Morrison Government is investing more than $1.5 billion to accelerate the growth of the nation’s clean hydrogen industry, along with more than $300 million to support the development and deployment of carbon capture technologies.

“Kwinana and the Pilbara have long made Western Australia an energy and export powerhouse. Today’s announcement will embrace the competitive advantages of WA – plentiful low-cost gas, great solar and wind potential, and a skilled workforce in resources and fertilizers – to grow another huge industry opportunity,” Minister Taylor said. 

“These hydrogen projects in WA will bring over $413 million of new private and public investment into the regions and can create over 3,600 jobs initially when operational – but this is just the start of hydrogen’s potential benefits.

“Australia has a competitive advantage in CCS due to our abundant, world-class geological storage basins. Proving up low cost CCS will be essential to reducing emissions from LNG production and building an early cost advantage in clean hydrogen production.

“Our commitments will create jobs, boost clean exports, and help to drive the production costs of hydrogen down, the heart of our technology-focused approach to reducing emissions.”  

The projects in Western Australia which will be offered grant funding from this first round of the Critical Minerals Accelerator Initiative are:

  • Global Advanced Metals Pty Ltd – $4 million for a tantalum and tin recovery plant at Greenbushes in Western Australia. By increasing the volume of tantalum that is produced in Australia, this project will help make Australia an integral, world leading part of critical supply chains for tantalum. It is estimated the project will create an additional 7 jobs in construction and 12 operational jobs over the life of the project.
  • Mineral Commodities Ltd – $3.94 million for developing an Australian integrated graphite ore-to-battery anodes business based in Munglinup, Western Australia. It is estimated the project will create an initial 78 regional jobs and around a further 210 highly skilled jobs in Esperance and Kwinana as the project moves into value-adding downstream processing.

These projects build on the Morrison Government’s announcement of a $1.25 billion loan through the Critical Minerals Facility to Australian company Iluka Resources, to develop Australia’s first integrated rare earths refinery at Eneabba in Western Australia.

The refinery project is estimated to have a construction workforce of around 300 people and an operational workforce of around 270 people. These high skilled regional jobs are crucial for Australia to grasp its place in the global new energy economy.

Western Australia’s resources sector provides critical inputs for Australia’s manufacturing industry and these initiatives will build on the more than $304 million we have invested through the Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy to continue to grow our resources technology and critical minerals sector.  

The Government is delivering Western Australia’s first Clean Hydrogen Industrial Hubs by committing:

  • Up to $70 million to support BP Australia Pty Ltd’s H2Kwinana Clean Hydrogen Industrial Hub, with a total project value of over $252.5 million. 
  • Up to $70 million to support the Western Australian Government’s Pilbara Hydrogen Hub, with a range of local and international private partners and a total project value of $140 million. 

And supporting two projects under the Design and Development stream by further committing:

  • Up to $3 million for Engie Hydrogen Pty Ltd’s ENGIE Pilbara Green Hydrogen Hub project, with a total project value over $7.8 million. 
  • Up to $3 million for Santos Limited’s Carnarvon Clean Hydrogen Front End Engineering Design project, with a total project value of over $13 million.

As part of the $250 million investment in CCS announced in the 2021-22 Budget, the Government is committing:

  • Up to $40 million to support the design and construction of Woodside Energy’s multi-user Burrup carbon capture and storage hub and CO2 gathering and transportation network.
  • Up to $20 million to support the design and construction Mitsui E&P’s Mid West carbon capture and storage hub.
  • Up to $7 million to support Buru Energy to assess the potential for onshore storage in the Carnarvon Basin.

The Burrup and Mid West hubs are expected to reduce emissions by a combined 7.4 million tonnes per annum from 2028. The projects are expected to drive more than $1 billion of investment in regional Western Australia and will create more than 2,000 jobs. 

The National Hydrogen Strategy released in 2019 sets the goal for Australia to become a major producer and exporter of clean hydrogen by 2030. Hydrogen hubs were identified as an effective means to create demand, build scale and reduce production costs by co-locating producers, exporters and users.

Australian hydrogen production for export and domestic use could generate more than $50 billion in additional GDP by 2050. Clean hydrogen exports could directly support 16,000 jobs by 2050, plus an additional 13,000 from the construction of related renewable energy.