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Vecco Group has made the final investment decision to construct a $25 million vanadium battery electrolyte manufacturing plant in Brisbane.

The company holds the Debella vanadium and HPA (high purity alumina) project north of Julia Creek in North-West Queensland, which it aims to bring online to feed the plant in about two years.

The manufacturing plant is being delivered in partnership with Shanghai Electric, one of the largest electrical equipment manufacturing companies in China and one of the largest vanadium flow battery manufacturers in the world.

As part of their support for the electrolyte facility and new vanadium battery projects in Australia, Shanghai Electric’s holding subsidiary Shanghai Electric Energy Storage company has signed an MOU for an initial 10MWh electrolyte offtake.

Vecco Group managing director Thomas Northcott said the Brisbane battery facility – the first vanadium battery electrolyte manufacturing plant in Australia – would initially produce 30MWh per annum before scaling up to about 300MWh.

“This is a significant step forward for Vecco in securing an integrated supply chain from our Debella vanadium and HPA project through to battery production,” he said.

“We are excited to be capturing the first mover advantage in Australia and south-east Asia for what is a rapidly growing market for large-scale renewable energy storage.”

Demand is currently strong and there is significant future demand supplying large long-duration vanadium batteries to support green hydrogen projects around Australia.”

Vecco plans to start production from a small commercial plant, supplied by Shanghai Electric, as early as the fisrt quarter of 2022.

It will initially be used to demonstrate the process and produce electrolyte samples for battery manufacturers before Vecco brings further stages online to scale up to the full $25 million facility.

Move shores up Julia Creek mine prospects

Mr Northcott said the company would initially import the vanadium for the plant while it continued work to bring its Debella mine online.

The $110 million operation in North West Queensland is expected to produce 1500tpa of vanadium initially and about 1200tpa of HPA.

The site has a defined JORC vanadium resource of 175 million tonnes averaging 0.47 per cent vanadium pentoxide.

“What this does is shore up support for bringing that mine online,” Mr Northcott said of the electrolyte plant development.

“The vanadium market has been quite volatile, so what this allows us to do is have a secure offtaker for vanadium from the mine and a stable price for making the electrolyte for batteries.”

Mr Northcott said the integrated supply chain for battery manufacturing offered a huge opportunity for Queensland and this project would make the state a leader in the green energy manufacturing sector.

While Brisbane was chosen for the original plant, he said Vecco may look at regional centres for future plant sites as it scaled up operations.

Vanadium flow batteries are used for energy storage, including to support large scale solar projects and wind farms.

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