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S. Korea seeks deeper ties with Australia for key minerals amid U.S. law

All News 15:00 October 12, 2022

SEJONG, Oct. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Wednesday discussed ways to boost cooperation with Australia on supply chains of such key minerals as lithium and nickel in a move to better respond to the U.S.' Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the industry ministry here said.

South Korea has been working hard to explore new suppliers of major minerals to reduce its heavy reliance on China, as the IRA calls for tax credits to be given only to electric vehicle (EV) batteries using at least 40 percent of key minerals from the U.S. or its trading partners having a free trade agreement.

The threshold will be raised to 80 percent by 2027.

During the business roundtable in Seoul on Wednesday, Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang stressed the need to enhance bilateral trade and investment with Australia, as South Korea has a competitiveness in the EV and battery fields, and Australia is rich in those critical natural resources.

Austria is the world's No. 1 producing nation of lithium by taking up 49 percent of the world's total production, and the third major producer of cobalt and manganese.

Australia's Trade and Tourism Minister Don Farrell welcomed Seoul's move to ensure the stable supply chains in cooperation with his nation, and vowed active backing for cooperation between their companies, according to the ministry.

Wednesday's meeting also brought together officials of around 20 companies from the two nations, including Hyundai Motor Co., Samsung SDI Co., Australian Strategic Materials Ltd. and Arafura Resources, the ministry said.

This file photo, provided by South Korea's industry ministry on Feb. 25, 2022, shows South Korean and Australian officials posing for a photo after signing a memorandum of understanding on critical minerals and zero-emission technology in Seoul. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

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