Queensland just made a $75m move to become a critical minerals centre of excellence
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An Australian-first critical minerals demonstration facility, expanded to include more than just vanadium, will be built in Townsville to unlock Queensland’s next mining and manufacturing boom.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the $75 million facility – more than seven times the original investment – will be located at Cleveland Bay Industrial Park between the existing Sun Metals zinc refinery and Glencore Copper refinery.
“Queensland has the sunshine and wind above the ground combined with the critical minerals below the ground to make batteries and renewables with renewable energy,” the Premier said.
“After working with prospective users, universities, and research centres the facility will not only be able to process vanadium, a key component of large-scale batteries, but it will be expanded allowing for a range of critical minerals like cobalt and rare earth elements to be processed.
“This facility will prove up the commerciality of critical minerals in Queensland creating jobs not just in mining but in processing and manufacturing.
Set to potentially benefit are several Queensland based vanadium plays, including Critical Minerals Group (ASX:CMG), Richmond Vanadium Technology (ASX:RVT) and QEM Limited (ASX:QEM), whose flagship Julia Creek Project is easily one of the single largest vanadium deposits in the world.
QEM’s managing director Gavin Loyden told Stockhead the Julia Creek Vanadium and Oil Shale Project is a unique world class critical minerals resource.
Julia holds a 2,850Mt Vanadium JORC Resource with an average V2O5 content of 0.31%, with 360Mt in the Indicated category and 2,490Mt in the Inferred category. In short, it has the potential to deliver a landmark sustainable energy solution, right out of Queensland.
On the Palaszczuk government’s decision, Loyden said his entire team was on the phone.
“It’s great news. All of us at QEM are thrilled with the Premier’s announcement,” he said.
“$75 million, up from the original $10m, shows the strong ongoing commitment by the Queensland Government to accelerate the development of the vanadium industry here… which will provide huge opportunity for new industries downstream of the minerals extraction process.
“New industries such as vanadium battery manufacturing can value add to these important critical minerals resources and greatly accelerate the shift to a clean energy future whilst providing a new level of resilience here in Queensland.”
Industry insiders also told Stockhead the decision places the growing Queensland-based critical minerals companies vying for Federal Government grants well ahead of the other state-based companies.
Only a few days back, the Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King released the how to’s on a new brace of critical mineral grants.
The move doubles-down on the development of an entirely homegrown critical minerals sector, which aims to support and build out downstream processing, create jobs across regional Australia and support global efforts to achieve net-zero.
According to Minister King’s office, the Critical Minerals Development Program will provide some $50 million in grants (from $1 million to $30 million) to fast track projects that will strengthen Australia’s sovereign capabilities in critical minerals
The Minister said just last week that the program would accelerate the development of Australia’s critical minerals sector, crucial for low-emissions technologies such as electric vehicles, batteries and solar panels, as well as aerospace and defence applications.
“And will help both Australia and the world to achieve its net-zero commitments.
“The grants program will help Australia become a trusted and stable global supplier of critical minerals and rare earths which are needed to help lower global emissions,” Minister King said.