JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Plans to build lithium-ion battery plants in Australia are moving apace, with at least two proposals on the table for 'gigafactories' in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
A consortium led by Boston Energy and Innovation announced on Wednesday that it had selected a site for a planned lithium-ion battery 'gigafactory' in the Townsville area.
The factory will be built in Woodstock, which is located on the Flinders highway, about 40 km from the Port of Townsville. The city council has offered about 400 ha of land in exchange for equity in the project, which is considered a major economic injection for the Townsville economy with a potential to create 7 000 jobs.
Tanzania-focused graphite miner Magnis Resources is part of the consortium developing the planned Townsville lithium-ion factory. Magnis chairperson Frank Poullas said the announcement of a site selection showed how serious stakeholders were in getting the plant up and running.
The project will now move into a feasibility study to initiate design and the engineering phase.
The other proposal for a 'gigafactory' is that of Energy Renaissance, backed by UCL.
The company confirmed earlier this month that it will establish a 1 GWh/y factory in Darwin, in the Northern Territory. The plant will have seven production lines and will service the Australian and South-East Asian markets. The first cells are set to come off the line by late next year.
Several 'gigafactories' are planned across the world as demand for lithium-ion batteries from vehicle manufacturers and power companies increases. It is estimated that global battery manufacturing capacity is set to double from 103 GWh to 278 GWh to 2021.
Tesla Motors is building a major plant with a capacity of 35 GW/y in Nevada, in the US, and has said that it plans to build another gigafactory for batteries, possibly in Europe. In Germany, automotive manufacturer Daimler began construction of a factory for lithium-ion energy-storage units in May. Large-scale factories are also planned in China, Sweden, Hungary and Poland.
On Tuesday, Australia's Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) announced that it is investing A$20-million into a project producing lithium concentrate – an essential component in electric vehicles and battery storage. The Pilgangoora openpit lithium mine, in Western Australia, will produce lithium concentrate that can support a full range of lithium products used in products such as lithium batteries.
The CEFC’s investment in the project, led by Pilbara Minerals, will help to finance the development of the Pilgangoora project.
Lithium is a vital component used in battery storage, which helps to support Australia’s increasing use of renewable energy. Increasing the supply of lithium will help to drive the uptake of clean energy technologies, such as electric cars and battery storage.