Australian Vanadium (ASX:AVL) will get ‘Lead Agency Status’ from WA’s Department of Mines, streamlining the official approvals process for its flagship Australian Vanadium Project.

‘Lead Agency Status’, which complements the ‘Major Project Status’ awarded by the federal government in September last year, also provides greater certainty to groups considering investing in the tier 1 project.

In January, AVL kicked off serious vanadium offtake and/or project investment discussions with a subsidiary of China-based HBIS Group Chengsteel, the world’s #3 vanadium producer.

WA Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Johnston says vanadium is proving a key component in battery tech and renewable energy storage.

It was influential in forming the WA Future Battery Industry Strategy, officially launched in January 2019, which includes a vision for a thriving local battery sector which could “reshape the entire economy”.

“Australian Vanadium’s Project demonstrates that WA continues to be the leading jurisdiction for the ethical and sustainable production of battery and critical minerals,” Johnston says.

Vanadium — on the ‘critical minerals’ list for Australia, the US, the UK and the EU — is mainly used to strengthen construction steel and in highly specialised alloys used in aerospace applications.

But there is also a growing market for vanadium in energy storage, using the vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) tech.

We’re talking about a big battery that will last over 20 years and after that the electrolyte can be reused indefinitely.

Lithium-ion can’t compete with that.

These batteries soak up an enormous amount of V2O5, which means a flourishing battery sector is important to the success of emerging low-cost producers like AVL and its battery subsidiary, VSUN Energy.

VSUN Energy has already sold a number of stationary storage batteries, flagging “increased interest from the agricultural sector and remote communities”.

AVL managing director Vincent Algar says formal recognition of the importance of the Australian Vanadium Project to WA by the state government is a crucial step forward towards development.

“The status provides greater certainty to those considering an investment in the project, which is already located in a tier 1 global mining destination,” he says.

“AVL has defined a vanadium project of significant size and economic potential.

“Official endorsement by the WA government complements the previously received federal government Major Project Status. Assistance with the approval process will be most welcome.”

The Australian Vanadium Project Location Sites (Supplied)

Only a small number of producers/near-term producers are capable of producing vanadium with the high-purity level required for electrolyte (VRFB) use; AVL is one of them.

AVL is currently progressing a feasibility study — an advanced look at whether a project will be economic — required its namesake high-grade vanadium project into production.

A pre-feasibility study released last year already shows the 5,700 tonnes a year, +17-year project will be in the lowest quartile globally when it comes to costs.

AVL want to bring these numbers even lower. A team of internal and external vanadium experts “are developing the project in the most economically efficient and robust manner possible”, it says.

www.ferroalloynet.com