Lava Blue awarded $5.2m battery minerals grant

Chunks of Petalite, petalite or castorite is an important mineral for obtaining lithium, battery industry, lithium source (critical minerals)
Petalite or castorite is an important mineral for obtaining lithium (Image: Shutterstock)

Battery minerals company Lava Blue Ltd has labelled Queensland ‘the home of battery technology’ as it received a significant grant under the federal Government’s Critical Minerals Accelerator Initiative.

The $5.2 million grant announced by Minister for Resources and Water, the Hon Keith Pitt, will support Lava Blue’s development of world-leading processes for refining critical minerals used in the lithium-ion battery supply chain. 

Managing director of the Canberra and Brisbane-based company, Michael McCann, said the grant was a significant one that would contribute to a $12 million Queensland project over the next two-and-a-half years. 

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“This grant will allow Lava Blue processes to be applied to recovery of a number of valuable minerals from vanadium pentoxide processing waste, including high purity alumina and potentially magnesium and residual vanadium,” McCann said.

“The outcome will be to greatly improve the economics of vanadium recovery and provide new supplies of high-purity minerals into global battery supply chains.”

The grant-funded project will scale-up processes for recovery of high-purity minerals at the Lava Blue Centre for Predictive Research into Specialty Materials (PRiSM), at Redlands Research Park in the southeast of Brisbane.

Lava Blue has already invested nearly $10 million dollars in research and development into production of high purity alumina from unconventional sources and into the development of PRiSM. 

HPA is a ‘battery metal’ used in the separator between battery anode and cathode, and Lava Blue is working with collaborators on commercialising its process to produce HPA. 

“Battery minerals are not industrial metals,” McCann said.

Related article: CSIRO: Australia’s minerals key to renewable powerhouse potential

“The high degrees of processing control required for materials to feed into battery manufacturing are at a totally different level to normal mineral processing. However, Australia is rapidly developing the capacity to produce battery materials and help drive the massive historical transition to a carbon-constrained, renewable energy future.

“Australia already produces more than half the world’s lithium. We could certainly have just as dominant a role in the production of other critical minerals including high purity alumina. We are pleased to say that the federal government agrees.”

Lava Blue is working with listed critical minerals developer Queensland Pacific Metals Ltd, Brisbane-based vanadium developer the Vecco Group, Clough Engineering, Stantec and world-leading researchers at QUT in developing the battery minerals centre of excellence at PRiSM.

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