WA battery metals explorer secures key partners for flagship vanadium plant

Fri 10 Mar 23, 11:48am (AEST)
EV battery logo in a forest
Source: iStock

Key Points

  • GR Engineering and Iron Mine Contracting sign on as partners with Technology Metals
  • Key partnerships follow Danish Government's $150m financial commitment
  • Vanadium oxide output of up to 12,500 tpa expected from MTMP facility

ASX-listed battery metals explorer Technology Metals Australia (ASX: TMT) is another step closer to firing up its Murchison Technology Metals processing plant in the mid-west region of Western Australia.

The vanadium developer announced it has secured key project partners, GR Engineering Service Limited (GNG) and Iron Mine Contracting (IMC), following a competitive tendering process.

The two firms will work alongside long-time TMT partner, Danish multinational technology firm FLSmidth, which is tipped as the key equipment supplier for the MTMP processing plant. TMT and FLSmidth have cooperated on projects since early 2018, including on salt roasting, a process that extracts vanadium from titaniferous magnetite ore. The two also worked together on the recent front-end engineering and design on the pyro processing technology, and in selecting equipment for the concentrator and leach circuit.

Underpinning the latest partnership, EKF Denmark’s Export Credit Agency has committed around $150 million of financial support, based on expectations of the Danish content anticipated from the agreement.

Technology Metals 12-month share price

12-month share price of Technology Metals

Why does this matter?

Vanadium is a rare elemental metal increasingly used in the rapidly developing storage battery sector, particularly in vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs). These are rechargeable batteries that use vanadium to store energy and provide efficient solutions for renewable energy applications. The long-duration batteries can store large amounts of electrical energy produced daily by solar and wind power generators.

As one of the most critical commodities in the clean energy transition, demand for vanadium could increase to 300,000 tonnes a year from 2030, up from the 115,000 tonnes a year consumed currently, according to market intelligence and advisory firm, Guidehouse Insights.

Until more recently, vanadium has been primarily used in steel alloys across multiple applications, including construction “rebar” and structural steel, high-speed tools, titanium alloys, and aircraft. Small concentrations of vanadium increase steel strength by up to 100% and reduce weight by as much as 30%.

“A strong endorsement”

“Partnering with high-quality industry players in GRES, IMC and FLSmidth is a strong endorsement of the quality of our owner’s team, the technical strength of the MTMP and the advances we are making in delivering the development of the MTMP,” said Technology Metals’ managing director Ian Prentice.

“We are maintaining our very clear focus on the timely development of the MTMP and the supply of high-purity vanadium pentoxide to play an important role in the global transition towards net zero while ensuring everything we do is guided by TMT’s core values and our holistic ESG action plan.”

MTMP overview

The project is located 50 kilometres south of Meekatharra in Western Australia, spanning the Gabanintha and Yarrabubba deposits. The MTMP is being developed to be a stable, secure, long-term supplier of critical minerals, with targeted average vanadium production of around 12,500 tpa (27.5 Mlbs pa) of vanadium oxide over an initial 25-year mine life. It will also produce a highly sought-after titanium (ilmenite) by-product, while mining and processing ore from Yarrabubba.

Recent Mineral Resource Estimates (MRE) indicate MTMP can produce 153.7 metric tonnes of 0.8% vanadium oxide, which includes a measured and indicated MRE of 63.2 tonnes of 0.9% product. This should support a further increase on the current 25-year mine life.

Key milestones

February 2023 –  TMT created its first batch of battery-grade vanadium electrolyte.

January 2023 – Denmark Government provided indicative backing of $150 million.

November 2022 – MTMP “measured and indicated” component of mineral resource climbed by 26% to 63.2mt of ore.

October 2022 – Memorandum of Understanding signed with top 10 global steelmaker, Tata Steel.

July 2022 – Study conducted to explore potential vanadium supply agreement with battery maker LE Systems.

 DisclaimerMarket Index helps small-cap ASX-listed companies connect with Australian investors through clear and concise articles on key developments. Technology Metals Australia was a client at the time of publishing. All coverage contains factual information only and should not be interpreted as an opinion or financial advice.

Written By

Glenn Freeman

Content Editor

Glenn is a Content Editor at Livewire Markets and Market Index. Glenn has almost 20 years’ experience in financial services writing and editing. Glenn’s journalistic experience also spans energy and automotive, in both Australia and abroad – including the Middle East – where he edited an oil and gas publication in the United Arab Emirates.

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