Date: Feb 13, 2019

AIM-listed integrated vanadium producer Bushveld Minerals’ ambition is to grow into one of the world’s most significant, lowest cost and vertically integrated vanadium companies.

Through its vanadium mining subsidiary Bushveld Vanadium and its energy subsidiary,Bushveld Energy,the company has set a strong base from which to unlock the opportunity for downstream integration with Bushveld Vanadium as a captive vanadium supplier to Bushveld Energy, an energy storage project developer and component manufacturer, CHANTELLE KOTZEwrites.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 1, 2019

It was in 2014 when Bushveld Minerals first identified the fast-growing energy storage market as a key and attractive downstream industry for its vanadium production, says Bushveld Minerals founder and CEO Fortune Mojapelo.

Vanadium critical to the energy storage market

According to the latest estimates by United States-based multi-service professional firm Navigant, vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) demand is expected to increase to over 18 000 MWh by 2027, assuming an 18% market share.

In an upside scenario, market researcher BMI Research suggests a 25% market share, which could increase VRFB demand to over 27 500 MWh by 2027.

If these forecasts hold true, over 82 000 t of vanadium will be needed just for VRFBs. Taking the BMI forecast into account, this could increase to over 96 000 t.

The amount of vanadium needed in the Navigant and BMI Research assumptions, just for VRFB production, equates to the total amount of vanadium produced in 2017, which means that by 2027, energy storage demand for vanadium, could actually increase by between 50% and 100% in terms of 2017’s vanadium production.

This is notwithstanding the vanadium demand underwritten by the steel market required for high strength rebar manufacture.

With the stationary energy storage market rapidly growing and, according to Navigant, expected to exceed US50 billion in annual revenues by 2027 with flow batteries poised to capture 20% of it, South Africa is extremely well-positioned to participate in this market by virtue of holding the largest high grade reserves of vanadium in the world in the Bushveld Complex.

Bushveld divisions align with market demand forecasts

In response to these assumptions and findings, it is Bushveld Minerals intention to vertically grow the vanadium company through the supply of vanadium electrolyte for VRFBs for the energy storage sector in the medium-term and establish a regionally-oriented assembly and manufacturing capacity in the long-term – creating a global VRFB supply chain in South Africa with the added benefit of creating a captive market for Bushveld Minerals’ vanadium production.

Bushveld Energy was accordingly established in 2016 to capture a share of this attractive market and is exclusively focused on developing and promoting the role of vanadium in the growing global energy storage market through the development of VRFB technology.

In doing so, Bushveld Energy is bringing the energy storage value chain to South Africa as a means to leverage South Africa-mined and beneficiated vanadium. Bushveld Minerals will actively support the beneficiation of minerals mined in South Africa into higher value-added final products.

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