West Australian vanadium explorer signs agreement with Japan to scope state’s potential for flow battery electrolyte production

LE System’s Patented Electrolyte Production


Technology Metals Australia (ASX: TMT), a West Australian vanadium explorer, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Japanese R&D company, LE System, which specialises in vanadium redox flow batteries and has strong relationships with the Japanese Government.

The agreement, which is effective until the end of the year, will see the two companies investigate applying LE System’s proprietary technology to Technology Metals Australia’s vanadium project. It will also explore manufacturing vanadium redox flow battery electrolyte in Western Australia, as well as selling high purity iron-vanadium concentrate to Japanese customers.

TMT’s Gabanintha Vanadium Project

Technology Metals Australia’s (TMT) primary exploration focus is a project called the Gabanintha Vanadium Project (GVP), located 40 km south east of Meekatharra in the mid-west region of Western Australia. It seeks to develop a processing technique to produce high purity vanadium pentoxide, with the goal of becoming one of the world’s largest single primary vanadium producers, catering to the rapidly expanding flow battery market as well as steel markets.

In 2019, the company received a $2.7 million grant from the Australian Federal Government’s Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive Scheme which went towards its Gabanintha Project.

Vanadium redox flow batteries

Vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs) are rechargeable flow batteries which use vanadium in different oxidation states to store energy. Far from a new technology, flow batteries have enjoyed a resurgence of attention as an energy storage solution driven by the fact VRFBs are non-flammable, offer virtually unlimited cycling without degradation and are easily scalable.

Gabanintha Vanadium Project location map
Gabanintha Vanadium Project location

Technology Metals Australia

Wondrous waste

The agreement will see LE Systems apply its proprietary processing technology to extract vanadium and other metals from TMT’s Gabanintha Vanadium Project’s waste streams, a concept which the companies said they had been working on together “for some time.”

“Successful application of the proprietary processing technology to the GVP waste streams would provide LES with access to a low cost stable supply of vanadium products and provide Technology Metals with potential environmental management benefits, supporting the Company’s key objectives of sustainability and environmental responsibility,” the company’s ASX statement, published Monday, read.

Western Australia to potentially become VRFB electrolyte manufacturer

A partnership with LE System, which is on track to becoming a key VRFB electrolyte provider, opens up new pathways for TMT’s downstream processing strategy. Specifically, the MoU will see the two companies investigate opportunities to use proprietary technology to manufacture VRFB electrolyte in Western Australia.

“With the necessity of large capacity storage batteries rapidly increasing, the successful technology collaboration and business cooperation between TMT and LE System are very important to us,” LE System Chief Executive Officer, Junichi Sato, said in the statement.

Under the MoU the parties have agreed to investigate the opportunity to jointly produce electrolyte for the VRFB market in Western Australia. While initially focused on the use of vanadium sourced from GVP waste streams, there is nonetheless potential to expand to using the high purity vanadium to be produced from the project.

“This opportunity would have scope to establish a significant downstream value adding industry designed to target what TMT sees as the rapidly emerging stationary storage battery market opportunities in Australia,” the statement reads.

Opening up to Japanese markets

The third aspect of the MoU is the two companies working together to scope the Japanese market with the hopes of selling high grade, high purity iron-vanadium concentrate.

The MoU will be effective until 31 December, 2021, with both parties to decide whether they plan to continue their partnership. The agreement was facilitated by negotiations by the Western Australian Governments’ Japan-based representative of the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, with the company saying it will continue to working closely with Australian government agencies.

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