• QEM successfully produces high-purity (>99%) vanadium pentoxide from waste stream
  • Achievement supports company’s plan to provide a circular economy solution
  • University of Queensland to optimise processing conditions and producer larger samples for offtake


Special Report: QEM’s quest to become a major vanadium supplier has received a significant boost after it successfully produced high-purity vanadium from an industrial waste stream in Australia.

Traditionally used to increase the strength, toughness and wear resistance of steel, vanadium is tipped to be used increasingly in vanadium flow batteries (VFB) suited for large-scale, long duration battery storage systems.

VFBs use vanadium-ions in the electrolyte solutions and are considered safer, more scalable and longer-lasting than their lithium counterparts, with a lifespan of more than 25 years.

Highlighting this, the Queensland State Government recently signed an agreement with three major companies to build a complete manufacturing supply chain, from mining to the manufacture of VFBs in Townsville.

The agreement is a clear sign that VFBs are entering the mainstream – a development that will be music to QEM’s (ASX:QEM) ears given its goal of becoming a leading supplier of vanadium pentoxide by leveraging its 2,850Mt Julia Creek vanadium project in north-west Queensland.

And while Julia Creek is front and centre of its ambition, the company has also been investigating the potential of helping build Queensland’s circular economy by extracting vanadium from waste streams.

QEM had previously reached agreements last year with Incitec Pivot (ASX:IPL) and Sun Metals Corporation to collect vanadium-bearing waste streams from their respective projects for processing at the Queensland Government’s $75m Queensland Resources Common User Facility (QR-CUF) in Townsville.


Vanadium from waste

The company’s ability to produce high-purity vanadium pentoxide from industrial waste has now been proven following a successful recycling study carried out on its behalf by The University of Queensland (UQ).

UQ’s small-scale laboratory demonstration of all the processing steps for recycling the vanadium catalyst resulted in the production of high-purity (>99%) vanadium pentoxide.

This validates QEM’s plan to provide a circular economy solution by extracting vanadium from the spent catalyst removed from sulphuric acid plants and putting it back into the economy as a high-value product.

Previous test work by QEM and Clean-Teq Water established that 90% of the battery-grade vanadium present can be extracted using known techniques.

This collaboration with UQ represents a further step in demonstrating vanadium recovery.

“The waste recycling project with UQ ties strongly to our ESG goals to position QEM’s projects and activities at the forefront of environmental and social responsibility within the mining and energy sectors,” QEM managing director Gavin Loyden said.

“This collaboration with UQ builds on QEM’s umbrella agreement with the university from September 2022 when The University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (UQ SMI) commenced mineral characterisation and beneficiation work for QEM’s flagship critical minerals project by characterising the mineralogy of QEM’s Julia Creek shale post-oil extraction to assist in optimising vanadium beneficiation to further improve vanadium pentoxide yields.

“With UQ’s assistance, QEM seeks to accelerate the introduction of Queensland-sourced and processed V2O5 into the market. QEM remains committed to its goal of supplying V2O5 from our primary vanadium resource at Julia Creek.”


Further steps

UQ is now optimising processing conditions for subsequent piloting, as well as producing larger samples of V2O5 for potential future marketing purposes.


This article was developed in collaboration with QEM, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.