Australian Mining: A critically important time (with Rebecca Tomkinson)
Critical minerals are the bedrock on which the world’s transition to net-zero sits. And no one understands this better than Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia CEO Rebecca Tomkinson.
The conference will address challenges the sector faces as it transitions to cleaner energy.
You might be hard pressed to find a leader as community-minded as Rebecca Tomkinson.
As chief executive officer of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia, Tomkinson is on the frontline of the mining industry and the crucial shift toward critical minerals.
And she is acutely aware that no single jurisdiction can forge this kind of path alone.
“Stepping in to lead the Chamber of Minerals and Energy has been a real privilege,” Tomkinson told Australian Mining. “I’m very proud to be able to join it at a critically important time.
“Currently, we need to do more mining than we have done in the past. And we need our organisations and the community to be part of that with us.”
Used in everything from electric vehicles to banknotes, the world needs more critical minerals than ever before – and Australia has some of the largest deposits needed to make that happen.
“The Federal Minister for Resources Madeleine King has said that the road to net-zero runs through Australia’s resources sector,” Tomkinson said.
“But I would take that a step further and say that it actually runs through Western Australia.
“We are very privileged to have all the rare and critical minerals required to decarbonise, but the most immediate challenge for us right now is getting enough industrial-ready land to mine these minerals.”
The challenges and the opportunities facing the sector will be key topics in Tomkinson’s keynote speech at AusIMM’s Critical Minerals Conference 2023.
Held in Perth from November 21–23, the conference has been created by the industry, for the industry. It will address the challenges facing the sector as it transitions to cleaner energy.
“I’m very excited to talk about the work we’ve been doing in this space,” Tomkinson said. “I’m especially keen to engage with young people to encourage them to join the industry.”
A 2018 survey of young graduates conducted by Youth Insight found that 40 per cent of respondents believed jobs in mining were in decline. Tomkinson is hoping to change that perception.
“We need the brightest and the best to partner with us on this pathway to reaching net-zero by 2050, and to do that we need more people to join us in the mining industry,” she said.
“I want to ensure that at the end of my keynote, everyone in attendance knows just how significant Western Australia is to the critical minerals industry, and what we’re capable of delivering on a global stage.”
Tomkinson said that in order to meet the target of net-zero by 2050, all aspects of the Australian mining industry must to work together.
“We need to ensure that Australia continues to lead the world in the critical minerals space,” she said.
“But to do that we need to work with federal and state governments and all member organisations.
“Approximately 82 per cent of the world’s energy is generated from some form of fossil fuel source and we need to transition out of that and build the new greener energy sources.”
Tomkinson likened heading up the Chamber of Minerals and Energy to a stewardship of sorts.
“You want to leave something as strong as you found it, if not stronger,” she said. “It’s about demonstrating the contributions our industry makes. Those contributions make the country stronger.
“If we get public policy settings, sustainability, environmental approvals, and work we’re doing with First Nations people right, then we can deliver on our promise of net-zero by 2050.
“The health and wellbeing of everyone depends on the future, and the future needs critical minerals.”
This feature appeared in the October 2023 issue of Australian Mining.
Article by: Alexandra Eastwood
To register for the Critical Minerals Conference 2023, click here.
To view the conference program, click here.