Date: Aug 16, 2018

Power-up ... Kidman's lithium deal with SQM could be bigger than the market expects. Graphic: Getty

Special report: Pursuit Minerals couldn’t have timed its foray into vanadium any better – and it’s right on the doorstep of the energy storage revolution.

Earlier this year the explorer (ASX:PUR) picked up projects in northern Finland and Sweden.

The Finnish government has ramped up its push to be at the forefront of battery technology and wants to re-establish itself as a substantial vanadium producer.

The country, which once produced about 10 per cent of the world’s vanadium, wants to do everything from mining to refining to making batteries and it is backing those companies that can help it do that.

“I think ultimately our move into Scandinavia, into vanadium, really was a case of the right commodity at the right time and the right place,” managing director Jeremy Read told Stockhead.

Vanadium is the best performing battery metal – more than doubling in the past year and rocketing over 300 per cent since January 2016.

Regulatory moves in China have largely driven vanadium demand in the past 12 months.

China, which supplies around 50 per cent of global vanadium, is using more of its output internally following new rules to double rebar (or steel reinforcing bar) requirements used to make stronger concrete for building construction.

Vanadium is a key ingredient in rebar.

At the same time the Asian heavyweight has shuttered polluting mines, reducing its output by about 10 per cent.

Battery demand growing

Traditionally the steel industry consumes around 90 per cent of global vanadium, but demand from the renewable energy battery sector is starting to take-off.

“Looking forward we believe that it is going to be the use of vanadium in batteries that is going to continue to really drive a substantial increase in the global consumption of vanadium,” Mr Read said.

Vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs) have become the preferred solution for renewable long duration energy storage because they are cheaper and have the longest life spans, lasting more than 20 years or up to 25,000 cycles.

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