The Australian government has released its Critical Minerals Strategy with First Nations engagement and benefit sharing one of the 6 key focus areas, focusing on:
- strengthening engagement and partnerships with First Nations people and communities, respecting their land and water rights and interests;
- supporting the critical minerals sector’s immediate and long-term social licence to operate and its ongoing sustainability. This includes creating economic opportunities in regional and First Nations communities while protecting cultural heritage and sacred sites;
- working with First Nations communities and their representative organisations to build their capacity to engage with critical minerals proponents; and
- working to improve equity and investment opportunities for First Nations interests.
The Strategy states: "Enabling and empowering First Nations to play a key and central role in Australia’s renewable energy transition, a transition which necessarily encompasses critical minerals, goes beyond just social licence issues – it presents a unique opportunity for Australia to design an economic system around energy and renewable energy infrastructure developments (and upstream and downstream value chains, including employment outcomes) that is fair and just and which can also positively impact and result in a range of other social and economic benefits for First Nations."
The other 5 focus areas for the Strategy include:
- Developing strategically important projects
- Attracting investment and building international partnerships
- Promoting Australia as a world leader in ESG performance
- Unlocking investment in enabling infrastructure and services
- Growing a skilled workforce