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PM Anthony Albanese visits Pilbara before Perth cabinet meeting

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will host a cabinet meeting in Perth after his Pilbara visit on Sunday.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will host a cabinet meeting in Perth after his Pilbara visit on Sunday. Photo: AAP

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is visiting Western Australia as he prepares to host a top-level meeting with his ministers.

On his 15th visit to the state since taking office last May, Mr Albanese toured mining giant Rio Tinto’s rail and port operations in the Pilbara.

The PM’s visit comes amid renewed focus on mining and critical minerals after a landmark report found the potential for lithium demand to increase eight-fold by the 2060s, while coal demand could fall as the world heads towards net-zero emissions.

Australia’s critical mineral exports are also forecast to double over the next five years.

“We need to make sure our resources sector continues to have a prosperous future,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“When you look at the growth in new resources like lithium and others, that are in abundance here in the west, you also see the opportunity that is there from the growth in the new economy.”

Mr Albanese said he also wanted to position Australia to take advantage of the booming sector by increasing what can be done onshore, such as processing and value-adding.

“There is no reason whatsoever why Australia can’t be making batteries given the resources like lithium and copper and nickel that are here,” he said.

Rio operates 17 iron ore mines in the Pilbara, four port terminals and a rail network spanning about 2000 kilometres, supported by a Perth operations centre.

The miner employs about 17,000 people in WA.

But the focus of the Prime Minister’s trip remained on the upcoming Indigenous Voice referendum, with the western state tipped to vote ‘No’.

Mr Albanese says no state is being written off as he prepares to fire the starting gun for the official referendum campaign when he announces the date Australians will vote – tipped to be October 14 – while in Adelaide on Wednesday.

“The feedback that I have from people who’ve been … out there doorknocking is when people put to them what the question actually is, they respond very positively,” he said.

“This is a very gracious request from Indigenous people, just to be recognised and to be listened to through the Voice.”

Mr Albanese will host a cabinet meeting in Perth on Monday and address a business breakfast on Tuesday.

He previously brought his cabinet to the Pilbara mining town of Port Hedland in February and has pledged to regularly visit WA after the state’s voters played a pivotal role in helping federal Labor return to office.

After the referendum date is announced, ministers are expected to kick off an election-style campaign with events throughout the country.

The poll will determine whether an Indigenous Voice will be enshrined in the constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the first people of Australia.

-AAP

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