"Fast 5" interview with Craig Doyle
Craig Doyle is the CEO of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF). He has extensive executive, operational and project funding experience in various industries including ports, logistics, manufacturing, agriculture and local government in northern Australia.
1. Can you tell the readers a little bit about your professional background and current role at NAIF?
I am currently the Chief Executive Officer at Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF). I commenced in June 2022. I have been at executive/CEO level for over 25 years holding CEO level roles at Wilmar Sugar, Gladstone Ports Corporation, Mackay Regional Council and Coal Network Capacity Company. Earlier in my career, my area of expertise was in operations.
2. You are a keynote speaker at the Critical Minerals Conference 2023. Can you give us a short preview of what delegates can expect from your presentation?
My aim is to ensure the audience is informed of NAIF, what we offer and how we can assist potential project proponents. We have, and are, playing a major role in the critical minerals space with finance and expertise support across the north of Australia, and the presentation will focus on examples of what we have been doing.
3. What is the key challenge/challenges facing the critical minerals value chain?
Cost escalation and access to capital. We have seen a 40-60% increase in capital expenditure over the past 18-24 months in almost every resource project we are involved with, thus making it more challenging to get these projects fully funded.
4. …and how can we address these challenges?
A key hurdle for both debt and equity investors is the perceived technical risk associated with critical minerals projects. To mitigate this risk and attract more capital into the sector, proponents need to consider building large scale demonstration plants to minimise scale-up risk and show that the technology works.
This obviously comes at a cost, however the government sector is prepared to assist. For example, Alpha HPA received a $15.1m federal grant under the Critical Minerals Accelerator Initiative to build a demonstration plant, and similarly, the Queensland Government has announced it will build a multiuser critical minerals demonstration facility in Townsville. Furthermore, government investment vehicles such as NAIF and EFA (via the Critical Minerals Facility) are providing cornerstone debt facilities to critical minerals project with the aim of attracting other financiers into these projects.
5. Australia has a target of Net Zero Emissions by 2050. What key changes need to occur for this to become a reality?
In terms of the mining sector, gas and diesel fired power stations need to be replaced by renewable energy and batteries and the mining fleets need to be electrified to eliminate diesel. Production of critical minerals such as lithium, rare earths and cobalt will need to significantly increase to meet global demand in the energy transition, and Australia is ideally placed to deliver into this increase in demand.
Craig Doyle’s experience includes CEO of Gladstone Ports Corporation during a period of unprecedented growth from 2013 to 2016 and Executive General Manager of Australia’s largest sugar producer Wilmar. Craig was also the Global Technical Head for Wilmar’s international sugar operations.
Craig was CEO of Mackay Regional Council for nearly five years and is well versed in the needs of regional communities and key infrastructure requirements.
To register for Critical Minerals 2023, click here.
To view the conference program, click here.