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Australia Adds Tellurium To Critical Mineral List

January 17, 2024
x min read

One of the most important elements for solar panel production has just been declared a critical mineral by Australia.

What’s happening:

  • The Australian Department Of Industry, Science and Resources has officially declared tellurium to be a critical mineral
  • The new addition sees tellurium join Australia's list of critical minerals that includes lithium, cobalt, graphite and other elements that are vital to the energy transition

The big idea:

  • Tellurium is a critical input for many important technologies for the energy transition such as solar panel production
  • Tellurium is widely used for manufacturing the films that are essential to photovoltaic solar cells
  • When combined with other elements, tellurium is able to form a compound that enhances electrical conductivity and allows the thin films on solar panels to absorb sunlight and turn it into electricity

Going deeper:

  • Tellurium is one of the least common elements in the world and is typically found in small rock deposits, often making it challenging to mine at significant scale
  • China is currently the largest producer of tellurium globally
  • Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, India and South Korea have also all declared tellurium to be a critical mineral

By the numbers:

  • Tellurium is consider to be approximately 8x less abundant than gold

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