British companies are the best partners for Australian miners to work with in developing critical minerals projects because they can open the door to London’s money and metals markets, a visiting UK minister says.
Minister for the Indo-Pacific Anne-Marie Trevelyan also expressed alarm over China’s “coercion” of Taiwan and the risk it posed to regional stability.
And while careful not to comment on the specifics of Canadian intelligence claims that the Indian government was behind the murders of a Sikh community leader, she said extraterritorial killings were clearly unacceptable.
UK MInister for the Indo-Pacific Anne-Marie Trevelyan: “We are really going to rocket through and build the processing that minerals need, not only for us but for many others around the world.” 
Visiting Australia for the third time as Indo-Pacific minister, Ms Trevelyan spent Tuesday in Perth, where she met Premier Roger Cook and business leaders for talks on AUKUS and resources co-operation, before travelling to Darwin.
The three-day visit to Darwin, which concludes on Friday, is understood to be the first by a British minister to the Northern Territory in 70 years. Ms Trevelyan will travel to East Timor after that.
The focus on resources for the clean energy transition comes amid a global scramble to shore up supplies of critical minerals and break China’s stranglehold on processing,
A number of countries have signed agreements with Australia on critical minerals developments, including India, Indonesia, the US and the UK. France joined the club this week with an agreement for a joint study on critical minerals’ supply chains.
But Ms Trevelyan staked a claim for Britain as the “natural” fit for Australian ventures looking for capital and know-how.
“As we look at decarbonising our planet and move away from hydrocarbons to clean energy, many of the critical minerals needed are in Australia’s land base, so there is an important relationship to build,” she told The Australian Financial Review.
“The challenge we’ve got is … the world is going to need four times as many critical minerals as we process today, so that is a massive increase in processing.
“So, there are opportunities for UK businesses which literally have centuries-long skills in all sorts of chemical processing, working with Australia on the physical side of mining these minerals.
“We are the centre of the world in financing, the London Metals Exchange is the central trading exchange, and the shift in finance we’ve seen come through the City of London towards green solutions is dramatic.
“You need chemical engineering, physical engineering and money, and the UK has got two of those and Australia has got the third. So, I think working together, we are really going to rocket through and build the processing that minerals need, not only for us but for many others around the world.”
Ms Trevelyan said she had noticed a shift among UK businesses’ willingness to work with Australia to build the industrial base to make the acquisition and sustainment of nuclear submarines under AUKUS a success.
But meeting the demand for skilled workers – uniformed and civilians – continued to be the major challenge, she said.
Ms Trevelyan said China’s economic and security coercion in the region remained a concern. While she would not comment on a potential peaceful realignment between China and Taiwan, she said that “it’s not acceptable to see the sort of coercive behaviour we are seeing” as Beijing ratchets the number of sorties it flies across the Taiwan Strait.
“When we work in a rules-based order, then everyone can benefit and no one gets pushed around.”
Relations between Canada and India have nosedived in recent weeks after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed agents acting on behalf of India gunned down Hardeep Singh Nijjar near Vancouver in June over his support for Sikh separatism.
The allegations have put Australia and the US in a difficult position as the two countries, along with the UK, share intelligence with Canada under the Five Eyes relationship, yet have been courting New Delhi as a bulwark against China.
Ms Trevelyan said she was unable to comment on the specifics of the Canadian claims but noted that under the norms and behaviours of international relations, “extraterritorial killings are not accepted”.
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