Country’s first vanadium processing facility to be built in Queensland could be expanded to other critical minerals in the future.
Australia’s natural wealth in critical minerals has attracted global economies in efforts to diversify their supply chains. Despite its vast resources, the country has no downstream processing facilities for critical minerals such as vanadium or rare earths within its borders. For example, the Australian mining company Lynas currently ships its raw feedstock to a processing facility in Malaysia before the material becomes available on the global market. The company is currently constructing a processing facility in the country’s southwest.
In another field of critical minerals, the government of the northwestern state of Queensland has now unveiled a $48.1 million commitment to construct the country’s first processing plant for vanadium in the state’s north. Queensland’s Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment, Cameron Dick, and Minister for Resources, Scott Stewart, highlighted the strategic importance of the facility and emphasized Australia’s and especially Queensland’s vast resources while lacking processing abilities in a joint press release. First announced in 2021, the plant is planned to be operational by 2025 and initially process the metal vanadium used, for example, for batteries, alloys, and smart windows, which reduce a building’s energy consumption by regulating the temperature. According to the press release, the facility will be able to be expanded to other critical minerals after being operational, such as cobalt and rare earths, crucial raw materials for renewable energies and electromobility. It is designed to provide mining companies with the necessary infrastructure to develop mineral processing techniques, demonstrate project feasibility, and eventually accelerate commercial development opportunities.
Queensland Part of Australia’s Critical Minerals Strategy
Australia is home to extensive resources of raw materials like lithium, copper, and rare earths, and its government is pursuing new ways to leverage this wealth. With its recently announced Critical Minerals Strategy, the country wants to attract more foreign investment and intensify partnerships with allied nations. Part of this strategy was also a $1.3 billion investment in its critical minerals supply chains announced last month, bringing Australia’s total investment in the sector to almost $3 billion. Queensland’s abundance of rare earths, gallium, indium, rhenium, vanadium, and other critical minerals (PDF) could play a central role in the strategy.