From research to reality: Queensland battery lab set to expand

Minister for State Development and Infrastructure, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Racing The Honourable Grace Grace
  • Redlands researcher using minerals from North West Queensland to build batteries in Brisbane set to expand
  • Investments like start up Lava Blue’s PRiSM facility are putting Queensland in a strong position to become a preferred global supplier of sustainable battery materials
  • New $570 million Queensland Battery Industry Strategy will bring the state’s critical minerals, manufacturing capability, and research expertise together

The Miles Government’s ambition to make Queensland the battery industry capital of Australia is well on its way, with Lava Blue set to expand their nation leading Predictive Research into Speciality Materials (PRiSM) centre.

Minister for State Development, Grace Grace, today visited PRiSM to see Lava Blue’s cutting-edge research into developing a process to produce High Purity Alumina (HPA) first hand.

In 2018, Lava Blue began working with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to develop a process for production of HPA from sapphire bearing kaolin clay deposits in North West Queensland. HPA is the essential material used in the manufacture of all light emitting diodes (LEDs) and is used in lithium-ion batteries to improve the performance and safety of cells.

Lava Blue’s process can manufacture HPA from a wide range of low-cost inputs, including mine waste. Partnering with the Vecco Group and Queensland Pacific Metals in North Western and North Queensland respectively, Lava Blue is turning a waste product from cobalt and nickel mining activities into a high value component that can be used to manufacture batteries.

Planning is underway for the next stage of the HPA plant, to make the big move from research and demonstration into small-scale commercial production, where Lava Blue aims to produce between 800 and 1000 tonnes of HPA per annum.

The expansion of the facility will also allow Lava Blue to demonstrate additional uses of their proven HPA processing systems to manufacture other high value materials to use in battery manufacturing.

PRiSM will also soon be one of the first solar powered battery integrated light industrial facilities in Australia, thanks to a 1.25MW/250kWh novel containerised battery on site.

Quotes attributable to Minister for State Development and Infrastructure Grace Grace:

“Our ambition is to make Queensland Australia’s battery industry capital, and ensure our communities benefit directly from the thousands of jobs and billion-dollar economic opportunities this will bring by 2030.

“We’re hearing from start-ups like Lava Blue that the investment and support laid out in the Miles Government’s new Battery Industry Strategy will make a huge difference.

“Thanks to previous and ongoing support from our government, we are already seeing battery supply chain eco-systems emerging across the state.

“Whether it’s sustainable aviation fuel in Townsville, hydrogen in Gladstone, or research in the Redlands, the Miles Government is investing in the clean energy jobs of the future.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Resources and Critical Minerals, Scott Stewart:

“I’ve seen first-hand the innovative work Lava Blue is doing and it’s exciting to know they’re continuing to grow.

“There are huge opportunities for Queensland when it comes to critical minerals which are essential components of batteries.

“We know in the North West Minerals Province alone there is potentially $500 billion of critical mineral deposits and these minerals are in demand around the world to help produce batteries.”

Quotes attributable to the Member for Capalaba, Don Brown:

“It’s great to have such world leading technologies and the clean jobs of the future being developed right here in my electorate of Capalaba.”

Quotes attributable to Lava Blue Managing Director Michael McCann:

“Nearly every single mineral required to make the batteries needed for the energy transition is available in Queensland. A number of Queensland companies are racing to develop the high value materials components and fabricate battery cells.

“This rapidly growing battery industry cluster makes Queensland a very attractive location for Lava Blue to invest and grow its business, and most importantly, work closely with the world class universities here to build the highly skilled workforce that is essential for a future battery industry.

“We believe that the battery industry cluster that has already been developing in South East Queensland for the past decade, combined with local processing of Queensland’s minerals to the high purity, high value battery materials needed, will make Queensland a significant global supplier to what will be one of the pillars of the global economy in the 21st century.”

Quotes attributable to Lava Blue Director Michael Ford:

“Queensland now sits in the perfect spot to be able to build a strong future and maximise the value from the global energy transition, and we need to work together and act quickly to harness this opportunity. The state has traditionally been known as a global energy provider and now Queensland can also be known as a leader in critical minerals and batteries.

“This is about great future jobs and prospects for our kids, fantastic opportunities for Queensland businesses, startups and researchers, and strong economic growth for the state, at the same time of doing the right thing globally.”

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