Western Australia, South Korea sign critical minerals research deal

MELBOURNE, March 15 (Reuters) - The Western Australian government on Wednesday signed a preliminary deal with a South Korean government-backed research group to exchange scientific and technical knowledge around the development of critical minerals.

The agreement comes after Western Australia last month signed with South Korea’s trade industry a deal to look at joint development opportunities in energy transition industries like green hydrogen.

Demand is set to surge for minerals key to the green energy transition such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and rare earths in the coming years, and Australia is looking to partner with friendly nations to build up its value adding industry.

“This (Memorandum of Understanding) will enable cooperation on research and exchange of information with our Korean trading partners to build capability and reaffirm the importance of Western Australia in the global supply of critical minerals,” Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said.

“Transformational change is needed in how we find commodities, extract and process them, and convert them for use in manufacturing processes to support the global efforts in decarbonisation.”

The agreement is between the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA) and the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources. (Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Varun H K)