Technology Metals Australia emerging as Australia’s first primary producer of vanadium

Technology Metals Australia (ASX:TMT) is advancing towards being the world’s next large-scale primary vanadium mine with financing commitments and project construction partnerships in place.

Speaking to on the sidelines of the Brisbane Mining Investor Conference yesterday (22 March), Managing Director Ian Prentice says the company’s Murchison Technology Metals Project (MTMP) in Western Australia will help supercharge sustainable industries.

Prentice notes to this news service that with many of the major components now in place for MTMP to come online, it is important to engage with existing and prospective investors about Technology Metals’ vanadium story.

MTMP is a hard rock source of vanadium and while it has traditionally been mined in Brazil, South Africa, and China, Australia is poised to have its first vanadium producing project with MTMP. Currently, some 78% of vanadium is sourced from China and Russia, which Prentice notes are not jurisdictions highly in favour among Western miners. This has created a ‘massive’ opportunity for Australia, which as mentioned currently has no production.

Addressing the conference, the MD explains: “Vanadium has predominantly been used in steel and a really big emerging market is batteries. We’re in a jurisdiction sitting in the Midwest of Western Australia, a very well supported mining jurisdiction.

We’ve received support from the Danish Export Credit Agency for $150 million of financing towards the equipment we’re going to be using for our project. And we’re very much focused on the downstream as well. I guess what we’re really focusing on being is the world’s next large scale primary vanadium mine for the batteries sector.”

MTMP is expected to generate annual EBITDA of about $180 million over a 25-year mine life, which Prentice says is ‘pretty attractive’. More importantly, the flagship project will produce 6% of the world’s vanadium when it comes online.

“So, 25 plus years of operation, the lead-in time to that, we’re going to be up there for 30 years or more”

“So, 25 plus years of operation, the lead-in time to that, we’re going to be up there for 30 years or more. So having that really strong relationship with the local indigenous group is very, very important. And that’s all part of progressing our environmental approvals as well. So, our ESG strategy is paramount.

If we’re going out into the European market for funding, if we’re going into the Australian market for funding, ESG is really, really important components of all these things. They won’t look at the project until they understand that you’ve got a really good handle on your ESG. We also have very strong engagement with the traditional owners, getting that relationship well, bedded down. We’ve also now gone out to tender out in the market, talking to the people who are actually going to construct the project, actually going to be building it in partnership with us. We announced our preferred tenderers a few weeks ago.”

The company recently engaged GR Engineering Services (ASX:GNG) and mine site construction services company Iron Mine Contracting to progress the MTMP. GR Engineering and Iron Mine Contracting will work alongside the key equipment supplier for the MTMP processing plant FLSmidth (CPH:FLS).

Prentice notes that with other tier-one partnerships in place with the likes of Tata Steel, India’s largest steelmaker, and LE System, a Japanese electrolyte producer, Technology Metals Australia has exposure to both key markets for vanadium.

MTMP will produce high-purity vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) and a ‘high value’ ilmenite by-product. The company’s flagship project is shaping up to be one of global significance. Following a November upgrade, the MTMP measured and indicated Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) grew to 63.2 million tonnes at 0.9% V2O5 within the global MRE of 153.7Mt at 0.8% V2O5.

MTMP is ideally placed as a developing supplier into a steel market increasingly using more vanadium due to its strengthening properties. But importantly as a primary vanadium producer it will also be delivering a ‘very high purity’ product, which will be perfect for the vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFB) market.

VRFBs are a rechargeable flow battery that uses vanadium in different oxidation states to store energy, using the unique ability of vanadium to exist in solution in 4 different oxidation states. VRFBs provide an efficient storage and re-supply solution for renewable energy – being able to time-shift large amounts of previously generated energy for later use – ideally suited to micro-grid to large-scale energy storage solutions (grid stabilisation).

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Images: Technology Metals Australia Ltd
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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.