Demand for high-tech metals is surging as companies establish global supply chains with greater emphasis on responsible sourcing and security of supply. Governments recognise the importance of these metals, listing many as being critical to modern economies.

High-tech metals map

This map shows areas in NSW that produce, or have the potential to produce, high-tech metals including copper, gold, rare earth elements (REEs), platinum group elements (PGEs), cobalt, lithium, titanium and zirconium.

The map explains the sources and uses of high-tech metals, contains important project summaries, and provides charts of current world production and reserves.

View the High-tech metal resources of NSW map.

Global cobalt demand totaled 118kt in 2018 and is forecast to grow more than fourfold by 2035 to 488kt.

Cobalt is magnetic, has a high melting point and is resistant to corrosion.

Cobalt is used in magnets and metal-ion batteries:

  • A typical smartphone battery has 16 grams of cobalt.
  • A typical electric vehicle battery uses up to 15kg.

Other uses include:

  • jet turbines.
  • paints.
  • medical and scientific applications.

View a fact sheet on cobalt in NSW.

View a fact sheet on cobalt and rechargeable batteries (external publication).

Global copper demand is expected to reach 31.6 million tonnes (Mt) by 2035, up from 23.6Mt in 2018.

Copper and copper alloys are widely used in:

  • building construction.
  • electrical and electronic products.
  • transportation equipment.
  • consumer goods and industrial equipment.

Demand is expected to remain strong:

  • A conventional car engine uses about 20 kg of copper.
  • An electric car engine uses about 80 kg of copper.

Australia has ~11 per cent of global copper reserves but accounted for only 4 per cent of global production in 2018, (CRU, 2019).

View a fact sheet on copper deposits in NSW.

View a fact sheet on copper and electric vehicles (external publication).

NSW is a globally significant producer of copper concentrate, with 185,100 tonnes produced in 2017-18 (DRG Mining Industry Infographics Snapshot – June 2019 Update).

Apart from its wonderful colour and lustre, gold can be melted, recast and beaten into atom-thin sheets through to wire thread. It is a highly reliable and durable electrical conductor and is resistant to rust and corrosion.

View a fact sheet on gold deposits in NSW.

Gold production in NSW reached 35.5 tonnes in FY 2017-18, (DRG Mining Industry Infographics Snapshot – June 2019 Update).

Rare earth elements (REEs) are a diverse group of 17 metals, which include the lanthanide series of elements (below), along with scandium (Sc) and yttrium (Y).

REEs are a group of metals with unique chemical, nuclear, electrical, magnetic and luminescent properties.

In 2017, China produced approximately 81 per cent of the global REE supply, with Australia producing 15 per cent – making it the second largest supplier (USGS 2018d).

REEs occur across a range of geological settings and provinces in NSW, including granites, volcanic rocks and the extensive heavy mineral sand deposits in the Murray Basin.

View a fact sheet on REEs in NSW.