$2.4 billion battery minerals complex granted major project status

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Melbourne-based Sunrise Energy Metals has been granted Major Project Status for its $2.4 billion Sunrise Battery Materials Complex project, a nickel, cobalt and scandium project and battery materials processing and recycling facility being developed near Condobolin in Central West region of New South Wales (NSW).

The Sunrise project, near Fifield about 50 kilometres northeast of Condobolin, will produce high quality, battery grade nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate, critical materials for the rapidly expanding lithium-ion battery market. The project will also produce scandium, a key ingredient in the next generation of lightweight aluminium alloys.

According to the company, the project has the potential to meet a significant portion of global demand for the raw materials needed in the lithium-ion battery industry.

Sunrise said the global lithium-ion battery market has grown at a 20% compound annual growth rate over the past 10 years and even the most conservative estimates predict rapid growth over the next 10 years.

“The complex … is ideally placed to become a major supplier of raw materials to the lithium-ion battery market in the near future,” Sunrise said on its website.

“The market is experiencing significant growth as the electrification of vehicle drivetrains become increasingly practical and cost-effective, particularly compared with conventional fossil fuel powered vehicles.”

The awarding of Major Project Status will provide Sunrise with access to extra support, coordination, and information services from the Major Projects Facilitation Agency which acts as a single-entry point into the Australian Government regulatory approvals pathway.

Resources Minister Keith Pitt said the Sunrise project will help Australia take full advantage of our rich reserves of these key resources.

“Growth in the battery sector has fuelled demand for Australian nickel,” he said.

“Australia’s nickel exports are expected to grow more than 25% next year – from around 200,000 tonnes in 2020-21 to 256,000 tonnes in 2022-23 – on the back of global battery manufacturers looking to secure stable supplies of critical minerals.”

AGL’s Nyngan Solar Farm is among the facilities in line to supply the project.

Image: Geagle Productions

Located on the doorstep of the Central West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ), the project is expected to be powered entirely by renewable energy, including large-scale solar.

Sunrise Energy Metals, formerly known as Clean TeQ, said it has completed a study which confirmed the availability and cost of renewable energy to supply the external power requirements for the project.

Sunrise said the majority of the project’s energy demand will likely be generated on-site with options including a behind the meter on-site solar array, and potentially battery energy storage, as well as renewable electricity sourced directly from the grid.

Sunrise said the use of renewables would eliminate about one third of the project’s total carbon emissions and would position the company as one of the world’s largest battery metals producers designed to run on 100% renewable power.

Over the first 25 years of operation, the approach is estimated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 4.6 million tonnes.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the Sunrise Battery Materials Complex project is expected to support more than 1,700 full-time jobs over the three-year engineering and construction phase and a further 380 jobs each year over the anticipated 50-year life of the project.

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