Queensland has given the go ahead for its first vanadium mine, an increasingly in demand used in storage systems and steel. Multicom Resources’ Saint Elmo mine, as its named, will be located near Julia Creek, in the state’s North West.
Construction on the $250 million mine is planned to start in 2022, with first production forecast for late 2023.
“Saint Elmo is initially forecast to produce up to 5,000 tonnes per annum of vanadium pentoxide, supporting at least 150 mine jobs and operating for up to 20 years,” Multicom Resources’ CEO Shaun McCarthy said in a statement. Over time, the project will expand production to 20,000 tonnes per annum, he added.
Vanadium is used in high strength low alloy steel and is emerging as a critical battery storage commodity for its use in vanadium redox flow batteries, ideally suited to large, grid scale storage solutions, the government’s statement read. While flow batteries are growing in popularity for being safer and more durable compared to lithium-ion chemistries, vanadium’s toxicity has seen the chemistry criticised at times.
Queensland’s potential vanadium hub
Saint Elmo is the first mine approved in a potential vanadium hub in the far north-west, with other companies progressing other potential mines.
Plans for vanadium mines are also progressing elsewhere in Australia, though at the moment there are only a handful of vanadium mines operating in a select few global locations including China, Brazil and South Africa.
The Saint Elmo project was declared a ‘prescribed project’ in February last year, giving Queensland’s Coordinator-General the ability streamline approvals and fast-track delivery of the project.
“I congratulate Multicom as the first cab off the rank in an exciting new era for Queensland’s resources sector, and a massive boost to our Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“Vanadium is a new economy mineral that will fuel Queensland’s future as a global resources supplier for decades to come,” she added. “This also lays the foundation for a potential next level new industry in Queensland manufacturing vanadium redox flow batteries.”
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