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The State Government has announced plans to build a common-user vanadium processing facility in Townsville, as the North West Minerals Province advances as a significant global source for the new economy mineral.

Treasurer Cameron Dick said Australia had the third largest deposits of vanadium resources, but did not produce a single kilogram of processed vanadium.

“The mining companies looking to process vanadium at an industrial scale don’t have the capital necessary to make that jump. That’s where our government can step in,” he said.

“Through our $520 million Invested in Queensland program, we will put at least $10 million towards this common-user facility, with the final amount depending on the outcome of the construction tender.

“A common-user facility can be used by multiple, smaller mining companies that do not have the available capital to set up their own processing facilities.

“This is an important step in attracting further investor interest and future off-take agreements.

“Once producers can see for themselves how processing occurs, they will have the confidence to invest in more manufacturing infrastructure and more jobs.” 

Mr Dick said the government was in the final stages of site selection for a demonstration facility in Townsville.

Construction is expected to start in 2022, with the plant scheduled to begin operating in 2023.

“Mining companies will be able to transport ore from their mine site to Townsville, enabling them to begin producing mineral samples at scale.”

Vanadium is used in high-strength steel and also in redox flow batteries that can be recharged thousands of times.

A range of local vanadium players this year formed the Queensland Vanadium Consortium and have been working together to lobby for the sort of support announced today.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) also has been pushing for government support for such common-user processing hubs in Queensland.

The group’s submission to parties in the lead-up to last year’s State election included a strong focus on mineral processing and the resources sector value chain.

Multicom Resources chief executive officer Shaun McCarthy told iQ at the time that State backing for shared demonstration facilities would overcome a significant hurdle for junior mining companies trying to bring critical minerals projects online.

Multicom Resources plans to start construction of its $250 million Saint Elmo vanadium operation next year. It is the first mine approved in a potential vanadium hub in the North West Minerals Province, with other companies progressing significant projects.

Vecco Group holds the Debella vanadium and HPA (high purity alumina) project north of Julia Creek in North-West Queensland, and QEM is advancing its Julia Creek vanadium-oil project.

Horizon Minerals and joint venture partner Richmond Vanadium Technology propose a shallow open pit mining operation producing 101.5Mt of oxide ore in the Richmond-Julia Creek vanadium project, centred on the Lilyvale deposit.

Queensland Resources Minister and Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the processing plant project was a key milestone in delivering on the work of the North West Minerals Province Taskforce.

“Saint Elmo is just the beginning, with other companies progressing other potential vanadium mines in what could become a world-class vanadium hub in the North West, so having this processing facility in Townsville will ensure locals reap the benefits,” he said.