A vanadium mine in Queensland's remote northwest will pioneer production of a globally sought-after new economy mineral, supporting up to 400 regional jobs. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Resources Minister Scott Stewart and Multicom Resources' chief executive officer Shaun McCarthy jointly announced the go-ahead for the $250 million Saint Elmo mine near Julia Creek, in the state's North West.
"I congratulate Multicom as the first cab off the rank in an exciting new era for Queensland's resources sector, and a massive boost to our COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan," the Premier said. "Vanadium is a new economy mineral that will fuel Queensland's future as a global resources supplier for decades to come.Vanadium is an important ingredient in the manufacture of specialty steel and will be used in large-scale renewable batteries around the world because it can be charged thousands of times without degrading. This project, and these jobs, are a milestone in a journey that began seven years ago with the Queensland Government's North West Minerals Province Taskforce. This also lays the foundation for a potential next level new industry in Queensland manufacturing vanadium redox flow batteries." For further information see the IDTechEx report on Redox Flow Batteries 2021-2031.
Minister Stewart said the new Saint Elmo mine demonstrates the success of the Palaszczuk Government's approach to enabling a prosperous resources sector.
"Consistent with our policy of fostering new economy minerals development, the Geological Survey of Queensland is constantly gathering data on the state's mineral endowment," Mr Stewart said. "The Palaszczuk Government makes that pre-competitive data available to explorers free of charge to help de-risk their exploration activity. This data gives companies like Multicom the confidence they needed to support investment and a mining lease application. The Palaszczuk Government supports the sector with grants funding exploration activity, and vanadium has been a target of that."
Mr McCarthy said mine construction is planned to start in 2022, supporting 250 jobs at peak, with first production forecast for late 2023.
"Saint Elmo is initially forecast to produce up to 5000 tonnes per annum of vanadium pentoxide, supporting at least 150 mine jobs and operating for up to 20 years," Mr McCarthy said. "As the project expands production to 20,000 tonnes per annum over time, there'll be an additional 100 operational and 150 construction jobs created.We expect around three-quarters of the workforce to either live in Julia Creek or McKinlay Shire, or to travel from surrounding communities of Cloncurry, Richmond and Mount Isa. Multicom will also source our suppliers from the local region as much as possible and is well-supported by the well-established supply chain along the Townsville to Mt Isa corridor. With ore processing to occur onsite and product to be shipped globally from the Port of Townsville, Multicom will benefit from the reliable logistics solution provided by the Flinders Hwy and Queensland Rail's Mount Isa Line."
Vanadium is used in high strength low alloy steel and is emerging as a critical battery storage commodity for its use in vanadium redox flow batteries, ideally suited to large, grid scale storage solutions. It is one of the new economy minerals that are used in advanced and renewable energy technologies.
Saint Elmo is the first mine approved in a potential vanadium hub in the far north-west, with other companies progressing other potential mines.
Source: Queensland Government
Top image: Multicom