Special report: Vanadium miner and battery maker Protean Energy is lifting its stake in subsidiary KORID Energy to 60 per cent.

Protean Energy (ASX:POW) entered an agreement with DST Co to acquire an extra 10 per cent of the company.

It gives Protean a controlling interest in KORID’s V-KOR battery technology and the right to appoint the chairman and managing director.

KORID was recently awarded approximately $3 million in funding for its part in a significant multiparty 1MW/4MWh vanadium battery project from the Korean Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP).

The project, which KETEP is funding to the tune of $10 million, is aiming to develop an industry standard for vanadium batteries in Korea, by bringing several participants together.

It is anticipated that the project will significantly reduce costs and improve the energy density of the V-KOR battery, which could reduce its physical footprint and enable further scaling of the technology.

“KORID’s selection by the South Korean government as the lead developer and supplier of the stack component of the battery is significant validation of KORID’s expertise in stack technology” Protean’s energy expert Scott Davis said.

The global vanadium market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.24 per cent between 2017 and 2021, with vanadium redox flow batteries seen to be a key driver.

“There is significant potential emerging in the vanadium battery storage market and Protean is now placed to capitalise on further advancements in this technology,” Mr Davis said.

Protean’s South Korean vanadium projects. Pic: Protean

Selling the DST stake

The increased ownership stake in KORID will also facilitate the sale of Protean’s 1.2m shares in KOSDAQ-listed DST, currently valued at about $1.5m.

“With $1.5 million in additional funding from the sale of DST shares, a further $3 million from the recent KETEP grant and a cash balance of over $2 million, Protean is in a strong position to progress quickly towards commercialisation of our unique vanadium battery solution,” Protean Director Bevan Tarratt said.

“We are pleased to now have further control over the direction of KORID and believe the next 12 months hold tremendous opportunity in the large-scale battery energy storage market.”

In consideration for the additional 10 per cent equity in KORID, the company will issue the equivalent of $750,000 worth of stock.

New joint venture terms

Protean and DST have also varied the joint venture agreements covering both KORID and Stonehenge Korea, the owner of the Daejon vanadium/uranium projects.

The variation deed to the Stonehenge Korea agreement confirms that the project has progressed to Stage 2 or feasibility, as a result of completing an updated mineral resource based on accessing and testing core held by the Korean Institute of Geoscience and Minerals (KIGAM).

DST will fund the estimated initial spend of $237,373 of Stage 2 expenditure.

After that, the joint venture costs will be shared equally.

Protean will provide an estimated $456,835 to KORID, or half of the estimated funding previously provided by DST, within 28 days of execution.

The company expects to pay for this out of its DST share sales funds.


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