Australian Vanadium opens Western Australian electrolyte facility

Australian Vanadium (ASX:AVL) has opened its vanadium electrolyte manufacturing facility located in Wangara in Western Australia.  

Yesterday’s (17 January 2024) official opening comes just a day after Technology Metals Australia (ASX:TMT) shareholders voted in favour of the scheme of arrangement in which AVL will acquire 100% of the TMT shares on issue.

The Australian Vanadium Project is one of the most advanced vanadium projects currently being developed in the world. It was awarded Federal Major Project Status by the Australian government in September 2019 in recognition of its national strategic significance and importance as a battery and critical metal project.

The Australian government supports critical minerals projects through measures including the Critical Minerals Facility and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.

Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King opened the vanadium electrolyte manufacturing facility, which has the potential to produce up to 33MWh of high-purity electrolyte per annum, catering to the growing demands of the vanadium flow battery (VFB) market.

The facility was constructed by Western Australia-based engineering company Primero Group, a subsidiary of mining services firm NRW Holdings (ASX:NWH).

Minister King says few people may know that vanadium flow batteries were actually invented in Australia.

“Australian vanadium will play a key role in the energy transition. Vanadium production is highly concentrated internationally, and it is on Australia’s Critical Minerals List.”

On display at the facility was a 78kW/220kWh VFB manufactured by Invinity Energy Systems (AIM:IES) which is destined for a Horizon Power project in Kununurra and also a prototype residential 5kW/15kWh VFB.

Australian Vanadium has used U.S. Vanadium LLC’s (USV) electrolyte manufacturing technology for the plant’s design, which the company says has de-risked construction and start-up.

USV currently manufactures vanadium electrolyte for the North American market. Australian Vanadium holds the exclusive licence for Australia and New Zealand for USV’s vanadium electrolyte manufacturing technology.

Until production of vanadium oxides from Australian Vanadium’s processing hub starts, vanadium oxide feedstock for the electrolyte facility will be sourced from USV’s production facility in the US.

In 2021, Australian Vanadium was awarded a $3.69 million federal government grant, with part of the funding allocated to building and operating a commercial vanadium electrolyte manufacturing facility in Western Australia to support the commercialisation of VFBs and the design of the prototype residential battery.

Vanadium is not currently mined in Australia. Some 60% of the world’s vanadium is produced and consumed in China, with 15% is produced in Russia and 10% in South Africa. Vanadium is a critical mineral and countries around the world are looking for a stable source of supply.

Australian Vanadium plans to mine vanadium south of Meekatharra, then process the vanadium close to Geraldton at a site which can become a processing hub for the region.

The company is advancing the development of its Australian Vanadium Project at Gabanintha which is one of the most advanced vanadium projects being developed globally, with 239Mt at 0.73% vanadium pentoxide (V205) containing a high-grade zone of 95.6Mt at 1.07% V2O5 and an ore reserve of 30.9Mt @1.09% V2O5 comprised of a proved reserve of 5Mt at 1.11% V2O5 and a probable reserve of 20.4Mt @1.07% V2O5, reported in compliance with the JORC Code 2012.

Planned production from the mine site is equivalent to around 5% of current global vanadium supply.

Vanadium is classed as a critical mineral because there are no acceptable substitutes for it in aerospace titanium alloys. Vanadium alloyed steels are used in virtually every high-strength structural steel application in military equipment, including submarines, combat vehicles and aircraft.

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Images: Australian Vanadium
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Written By Adam Orlando Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.