Technology Metals doubles down on vanadium feasibility study

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Vanadium flow batteries powering a commercial site.
Camera IconVanadium flow batteries powering a commercial site. Credit: File

WA-based vanadium developer Technology Metals Australia has extended an agreed Memoranda of Understanding with Japan’s LE System, a leading vanadium battery company. The agreement will see the duo launch a feasibility study into the development of Australia’s first fully integrated vanadium electrolyte plant, a material used in industrial scale electric batteries. The proposed plant will aim to utilise vanadium from the company’s Murchison Technology Metals project, or MTMP near Meekatharra.

The freshly re-inked MoU will run until June this year and will build on the original deal inked in March 2021.

Under the terms of the extended agreement, the companies will jointly prepare the feasibility study, with LE System, a key figure in vanadium redox flow battery, or VRFB research and development scene, providing technical oversight.

The feasibility study will be centred around a number of aspects associated with the development of Australia’s first vanadium electrolyte plant, including operating, capital and permitting factors. The study will also review the use of LE System’s technology in processing high purity vanadium from Technology Metals’ project. The companies are aiming to explore the development of large-scale renewable energy production centres in Australia.

Technology Metals says the group’s efforts could deliver “significant downstream value” with the battery storage market enjoying something of a renaissance in recent times.

By fully integrating both the mining and the processing operations Technology Metals hope to increase its profitability and give itself a significant advantage over other players in the space who only operate at one stage of the process.

In addition, the duo will continue to chase down opportunities to apply LE System’s processing technology in the extraction of vanadium from MTMP’s waste streams. According to Technology Metals, the successful application of the venture could deliver a low-cost supply of vanadium products, with significant environmental upside.

We view the downstream processing opportunities for vanadium from the MTMP as important for both the future demand of vanadium but also as key to addressing climate change.

TMT plans to build Australia’s first fully integrated mine to battery vanadium electrolyte plant working with an exceptional global partner, LE System, a leader in the VRFB industry.

Technology Metals Australia Managing Director, Ian Prentice

Technology Metals’ MTMP sits just south of Meekatharra in central Western Australia. The project lays claim to the Yarrabubba and Gabanintha deposits that collectively take in a striking 146.2 million tonnes grading 0.8 per cent vanadium pentoxide, including a high-grade component of 79.8 million tonnes at a solid 1.1 per cent vanadium pentoxide.

The company has already crunched the numbers at Gabanintha, knocking up a definitive feasibility study, or “DFS” in 2019. The study pointed to an astounding total EBITDA of over $4 billion across the mine’s estimated 16-year life.

Technology Metals is now assessing the prospect of open pit mining, beneficiation, whereby the raw material is treated to improve its physical or chemical properties and high purity vanadium processing in an integrated operation at MTMP. It will take in resources from both Gabanintha and Yarrabubba.

Key to the company’s decision making around the location of the plant will be the infrastructure and industrial capacity for growth in the battery storage industry. Technology Metals has plans to be a major player in the renewable energy future and it is keen to optimise the strategic position of the plant to take advantage of any potential large-scale renewable energy projects.

Vanadium is a key ingredient in VRFB’s – a rechargeable battery that uses vanadium to store energy for later use.

According to Technology Metals, the advantages of VRFBs include a lengthy lifecycle of over two decades and an ability to improve grid stability in both small and larger-scale energy storage solutions. Additionally, the company says VRFBs are non-flammable and support improved safety when compared with the in-vogue lithium-ion battery.

Technology Metals Australia may find itself as a key player both nationally and internationally in the green energy revolution if its new partnership can produce Australia’s first fully integrated vanadium electrolyte plant. Apart from cementing its green credentials, the plant could potentially also turbocharge its bottom line with an efficient and economical production cycle. Vanadium flow batteries have been tipped by some to be the future of utility-scale energy storage sector. If this does become the case Technology Metals may become a leading global player and could even drag Australia along with it.

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@wanews.com.au

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