Australian Mining News: Introducing the Strategic Materials List

In a major update to Australia’s Critical Minerals Strategy, the Australian government outlined the minerals that would be included in the Strategic Materials List (SML) in December 2023. The most significant minerals that have been included in the SML are both copper and nickel, as the Australian government has identified these minerals as being crucial components to Australia achieving its global commitments towards net zero emissions. The government has also identified that these minerals also have a critical role in contributing to Australia’s future defence strategy.

Purpose of the Strategic Materials List

Prior to the SML being introduced, Australia’s Critical Minerals Strategy was represented solely by the Critical Minerals List (CML). The fundamental criteria for a mineral to be included on the CML, was that it had to be considered sufficiently vulnerable to supply chain issues. The government has not made any changes to this requirement for minerals to be included in the CML, despite this latest update to Australia’s strategy. However, with the introduction of the SML, the Australian government has indicated that they will take a more proactive approach to ensuring that the market conditions for minerals included in this list are monitored. This is contrast to what is a more reactive approach by the government, when considering the nature of how the CML operates.

What is significant, is that the SML will ensure that supply chains for the minerals included in this list are given the support they require, so that they are prepared for potential disruptions that could occur in future. Given the inclusions of copper and nickel in the SML, this will mean that their supply chains will be actively monitored, and the government will be able to assist our domestic industries for these minerals more effectively, if it is required.

Importance of the Strategic Materials List

The SML is of critical importance in Australia’s overall strategic planning and resource management. By  identifying and prioritising critical minerals such as copper and nickel, the SML helps guide nation towards achieving multifaceted goals, ranging from environmental sustainability to national security. Its establishment marks a pivotal shift towards proactive monitoring and support of vital supply chains, ensuring resilience against potential disruptions. Moreover, the SML enables Australia to leverage its abundant mineral resources effectively, attracting foreign investment and fostering innovation in key sectors. As a cornerstone of Australia’s Critical Minerals Strategy, the SML not only safeguards the nation’s economic interests but also reinforces its position as a global leader in responsible resource management and sustainable development.


Australia has realised the importance of ensuring that it can efficiently utilise the natural abundance of minerals that it produces, so that it can achieve the broad range of goals, including achieving net zero emissions, as well as promoting economic growth. As the government has now developed a more comprehensive strategy for Australia’s minerals industry, this will give Australia the ability to focus on important goals, such as attracting foreign investment into projects involving minerals. As Australia continues to harness its natural abundance of minerals, the implementation of the SML reaffirms the country’s commitment to harnessing its resources strategically and responsibly to navigate global challenges and seize opportunities for sustainable development.

Harris Gomez Group METS Lawyers ® opened its doors in 1997 as an Australian legal and commercial firm. In 2001, we expanded our practice to the international market with the establishment of our office in Santiago, Chile. This international expansion meant that as an English speaking law firm we could provide an essential bridge for Australian companies with interests and activities in Latin America, and to provide legal advice in Chile, Peru and the rest of Latin America. In opening this office, HGG became the first Australian law firm with an office in Latin America.
As Legal and Commercial Advisors, we partner with innovative businesses in resources, technology and sustainability by providing strategy, legal and corporate services. Our goal is to see innovative businesses establish and thrive in Latin America and Australia. We are proud members of Austmine and the Australia Latin American Business Council.

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