Tech Metals: TNG is powering up its own vanadium battery business
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Near-term producer TNG (ASX:TNG) is cracking on with plans to build a vanadium battery business to complement its massive $853m Mount Peake mining development in the Northern Territory.
It’s largely accepted that vanadium batteries are better suited for large stationary storage than lithium-ion.
They are safer, longer lasting and easier to maintain, and recyclable. The recent run of lower V2O5 prices have also made them increasingly cost effective.
The #vanadium #v205 #China spot high #price closes out 2019 looking very stable at USD 6.90/LB. Current price levels and other data from China lead us to a more optimistic forecast, continued stability around current levels for H1 with some reasonable growth for H2, 2020. Zoom In pic.twitter.com/IEpYTEvU9n
— Mastermines (@VanadiumWorld) January 11, 2020
While steel is still the main consumer, there’s an emerging group of mining and exploration companies betting that vanadium batteries (also called VRFBs) become big business.
A low-cost, vertically integrated business model — from mining through to battery production and sales — is becoming popular.
In South Africa, producer Bushveld Minerals’ subsidiary Bushveld Energy is the successful frontrunner.
“Investing in the development and deployment of VRFB technology is a key part of Bushveld’s strategy for two key reasons,” chief executive Fortune Mojapelo says.
“Firstly, it will assist to increase the scale of adoption of VRFBs, which will increase demand for vanadium.
“Secondly, it provides a natural hedge for the company against vanadium price volatility.”
In Australia, AVL’s (ASX:AVL) subsidiary VSUN is already marketing and selling batteries and now near-term producer TNG has voiced plans to develop its own business in Australia “for full vertical integration of the vanadium supply chain”.
Experienced TNG non exec John Davidson will step down from the board to spearhead this battery business for TNG, as well as “his own alternative energy business interests”.
Davidson founded profitable Perth-based microgrid specialist Energy Made Clean, acquired by now-struggling Carnegie Clean Energy (ASX:CCE) for about $17.5m in 2016.
TNG’s managing director Paul Burton says the company will be drawing upon Davidson’s vast expertise in renewable energy to develop its own grid-scale VRFB business.
“This is a potentially exciting future growth area for TNG that complements our core business of developing the Mount Peake project in the Northern Territory,” he says.
Initial studies show that producing a high-purity alumina (HPA) by-product at the Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH project) would be very profitable for aspiring battery metals play Pure Minerals (ASX:PM1).
Last year’s TECH project pre-feasibility study estimated the ~$441m project would lead to a post-tax net present value (NPV) and internal rate of return (IRR) of $568m and 20.1 per cent, respectively.
That’s before taking into account 4000 tonnes per annum of HPA production, which has a standalone NPV of $849m and IRR of 80 per cent, it says.
The TECH project is becoming a one-stop-shop for battery manufacturers, Pure Minerals managing director John Downie says.
“Nickel sulphate, cobalt sulphate and HPA are key chemicals required by the battery industry and our potential ability to supply meaningful quantities of all these products will increase our appeal as a supplier to battery manufacturers.”
The news moved the share price dial up over 42 per cent to an intra-day peak of 2.7c this morning.