• Manganese the latest metal to get low carbon pitch from ASX junior
• Queensland pumping $14 million into hydro plant overhaul.


The latest carbon neutral metals project – this time its manganese

Long-term demand for electric vehicles is subject to ever increasing predictions about the volume and pace of the take-up of the clean alternative to traditional internal combustion engine passenger vehicles.

With the drive to deliver the critical metals for this transition, so comes the push to deliver those metals in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

A lot of this shift has come from investor pressure on big companies in mining, oil and gas to reduce their sizeable carbon footprints and build businesses designed to financial markets that reward decarbonisation efforts, or talk about decarbonisation at least.

Juniors are getting in early claim their status as green investment options.

Southern Hemisphere Mining (ASX: SUH) is one such company, which owns the Los Pumas manganese deposit in Chile. Manganese is of course a key component in traditional nickel-cobalt-manganese lithium ion batteries, and the metal poised to see the largest inflation in demand from the battery market, according to BloombergNEF.

SUH’s current proposed plans are light on detail but drew a positive response from the market this morning, driving shares 14% higher.

The company is aiming to supplement its proposed power generation with hydro from nearby developments or solar, although it is not blustery enough around Los Pumas to consider wind power.

It also wants to see if it can extract water from the atmosphere. Trials are pending, so we’ll see how that one goes.

SUH appears to be hoping to tap the same rich vein of investor sentiment as other low carbon project proponents such as Vulcan Energy (ASX: VUL), which is up around 1376% in the past year and boasts a market cap of $866 million.

Vulcan has moved at breakneck pace progressing studies on its “zero carbon lithium project”, today appointing a slew of high level consultants to run studies to back its upcoming DFS.

Vulcan, which is backed by Gina Rinehart, is aiming to produce lithium via direct lithium extraction from geothermal brines in Germany.


Queensland hydro plant gets $14mil overhaul

While Barnaby Joyce and Alan Jones are lobbying for more coal power to back up intermittent renewables in the national electricity market, Queensland is reinvesting in hydro following the recent failure of one of Australia’s newest coal generating assets.

The Government will pump $14 million into the Wivenhoe Pumped Storage station owned by state enterprise CleanCo.

Queensland Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Minister Mick de Brenni said Wivenhoe was part of the mix that brought power back for customers impacted by an explosion in May at the Callide C coal plant, although it should be noted natural gas has picked up a lot of the slack.

“All our publicly-owned energy generators have worked around the clock to respond to constraints in the network in these last few weeks,” Mr de Brenni said.

“When Callide C Power Station went offline in May, we were able to ramp Wivenhoe up to the point it was generating 530 megawatts over a four-hour period, helping to meet demand and stabilise the network.”

De Brenni said the overhaul will include repairing a refurbishing a 285MW turbine and repairs a transformer, among other things.

The maintenance project will run from mid-July to late October.

Two of Callide’s four units returned to service in June, with a third due to come back online this month.