PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The federal government on Friday approved nearly A$50-million in grants to accelerate the development of the critical minerals industry in the country, as part of efforts to reach net zero.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King announced the grant of the funding to six key projects to unlock the potential of Australia’s critical minerals sector, saying the projects would also bolster development across Northern Australia, generate new jobs and drive regional economic growth.
“Australia has the potential to become a major global supplier of critical minerals and rare earths which will be essential to help Australia and the world transition to low-emissions technology and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050,” King said.
“The grants will accelerate early and mid-stage projects, driving new investment in our processing and manufacturing capabilities as we develop our critical minerals sector.
“Australia has vast reserves of critical minerals which are crucial to batteries and electric vehicles, as well as the medical equipment production, defence, aerospace, automotive and agritech industries.
“These junior projects, should they be successful in scaling up to full production, will help diversify global critical minerals supply chains.”
ASX-listed Alpha HPA has been awarded a A$15.5-million grant for its ‘HPA First’ product expansion project to add new capabilities to the ultra-pure aluminium chemical plant being developed near Gladstone, Queensland.
The A$300-million HPA First project will produce 10 000 t/y of HPA and related high purity precursor products using Alpha’s proprietary licensed solvent extraction and HPA refining technology.
Meanwhile, Cobalt Blue Holdings has been awarded A$15-million to accelerate a definitive feasibility study for its Broken Hill cobalt project, including final engineering designs, drilling for further resource definition, to produce intermediate and battery ready cobalt products in Australia.
The A$560-million Broken Hill project is expected to produce 16 700 t/y of high purity cobalt sulphate, which will be used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries. This production will build downstream processing capacity enabling the product to be fed into the global market’s growing demand for battery products.
The project will also produce 300 000 t/y of elemental sulphur, which will reduce Australia’s dependence on imports for fertiliser production.
EQ Resources has been awarded A$6-million for tungsten production through recovering mine waste and reactivating openpit mining in Mt Carbine, in Queensland, for use in metal alloys for defence, transport and other applications.
A 2021 bankable feasibility study into the Mt Carbine expansion project estimated that it will require a capital investment of A$19-million and contemplates a 12-year operation, which focuses on an openpit development of the Andy White deposit, supplemented with processing of 12-million tonnes of low-grade stockpiled ore.
The openpit ore will be processed in the third and fourth year of operations, and will produce operational pre-tax cash flows of A$38-million and A$95-million respectively. The project would also have a net present value of A$131.5-million and an internal rate of return of 154%.
Meanwhile, Global Advanced Metals has been awarded A$4-million for a tantalum and tin recovery plant at Greenbushes in Western Australia, increasing the volume of tantalum that is produced in Australia, while Lava Blue has been awarded up to A$5.24-million for its project to develop modular re-processing technology to recover high-purity alumina, magnesium and other critical minerals from vanadium mine waste, which will increase product recovery and help to diversify production into new materials.
ASX-listed Mineral Commodities has been awarded A$3.94-million for developing an Australian integrated graphite ore-to-battery anodes business, producing battery grade graphite, based in Munglinup, Western Australia.
King said the grants would support more than 500 new jobs in regional and northern Australia.