Mineral, metallurgical and materials industries represent significant contributions to the economy of both Australia and China. In Australia, the minerals and metallurgy, and related industries such as cement, contribute about 20% of Australia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP); >50% of the export income in Australia comes from minerals (e.g. the export of iron ore fines alone generated $49.4 billion, representing 21.4% of total export income in 2010); manufacturing, which is very much related to material production and application, employs over one million Australians and remains one of the largest in the Australian economy, accounting for 9% of GDP and >30% of total exports. China is the largest consumer of Australia's minerals (e.g. ~70% iron ore fines exported to China). Its manufacturing sector produces about 50% of the GDP. China has become a preferred destination for the relocation of global manufacturing facilities. The machine-building, metallurgical, energy and materials industries are deemed to be of national strategic importance and have received the highest priority. These areas alone now account for > 30% of the total gross value of industrial outputs.
The strengths of the two nations are complementary to each other. For example, Australia is the largest supplier and China is the largest consumer of resources; China has a huge market for commercializing new technologies and products developed in Australia. Both countries also face similar challenges. In particular, with the rise of environmental barriers in globalized export markets, movements in currency exchange rates, the movements towards a low-carbon economy and consumer preferences for socially responsible products, Australia and China face considerable challenges in securing their future value proposition and sustaining a competitive advantage in a carbon and resource constrained world. There is a pressing need to establish an international hub of research with a focus on the further development of economic pillars of both countries from raw materials to products through strategic collaboration, thus lubricating the economic engines of Australia with rich resources and China with robust manufacturing capabilities. The 3-M Centre is established to meet this need.