News that the Albanese government has doubled the rate at which renewable energy projects are being approved is welcome.
This success has been attributed to a budgetary boost designed to clear backlogs and issue faster environmental approval
The WA Government is on a similar pathway, currently standing up a green approvals team, designed to get renewables and green hydrogen projects off the ground, faster.
While Australia is finally moving in the right direction on climate, the speedy approval of new mining projects will be just as important to a successful energy transition. This is because clean energy technologies are more mineral intensive than their fossil fuel burning predecessors.
A typical electric car requires six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car, and an onshore wind plant requires nine times that of a gas-fired power plant. Given the scale of transition investment required, the demand for critical minerals, as well as iron ore, will grow substantially.
Miners will make life easier for regulators (and be more appealing to a younger workforce), if they operate to high environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, which includes decarbonising, supporting biodiversity and delivering for Traditional Owners and local communities. But, if they do, regulators should also work to speed up mining approvals, and governments should provide the funding this requires.
Any future victory lap on climate will only occur around an Australia that has many more mines than exist today.
This article also appeared in The West Australian newspaper.