Largo Betting On Growing Use Of Vanadium Batteries

Canada’s Largo Resources is betting on its Brazilian vanadium deposits to help the company switch to a focus on batteries for energy storage.

Largo operates in Brazil through its Vanádio Maracás unit and about 80% of its production is used as an alloy in steel, while another 15% goes to the aerospace industry, mainly for manufacturing planes.

“The trend is for a migration from the steel industry to the battery industry. There’s a lot of room to grow, as it’s an option for storing large loads, as it’s a metal with high durability,” Largo CEO Paulo Misk said in an interview with newspaper Valor Econômico.

Such batteries currently use more lithium but Misk expects much of that to be replaced by vanadium as it has longer durability.

“Lithium batteries, for example, last six to seven years. Vanadium ones, on the other hand, can be charged and discharged without any degradation and last for more than 20 years,” he said.

Toronto-based Largo announced last week the creation of Largo Clean Energy, a unit to provide long-duration vanadium redox flow battery systems for the fast-growing global renewable energy storage market.

Misk said the company’s vanadium reserves, in northeast Brazil’s Bahia state, mean “we can double production. Currently, we have reserves for nine years of production, but due to the exploration we’re doing, these reserves can exceed 25 years. This year, we’re likely produce around 12,000t of vanadium, which represents 7-8% of world production,” he said.

According to Misk, production this year is likely to hit a record for the company, surpassing 2019’s 10,500t, which was the highest since the mine started operating six years ago. “This was driven by the steel market, especially the Chinese, which recovered quickly this year, despite the pandemic,” the CEO said.

Revenue this year should be US$125mn, up 20% on 2019, Misk added.