Western Australia’s natural advantages when it comes to capturing more of the battery value chain in the future are numerous and compelling, according to Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Johnston as he opened day two of Paydirt’s Battery Minerals Conference in Perth this morning.
The State has a solid track record in attracting world-scale investment including leading mining and mineral processing expertise; a highly skilled workforce; a transparent and robust regulatory framework; and very low political risk factors.
“We are recognised as a leader in critical minerals as well as in research and innovation … and we hope that over the next 30 years, we can continue to have investment in clean energy technologies to create a stronger industry here in Western Australia that can see tens-of-thousands of additional jobs,” Minister Johnston said.
“We are well placed to take advantage of these opportunities and we want to partner with industry to take advantage of these unique opportunities. We believe we can be a strong alternative supply chain compared to other operations and that there is a strong investment case for those investments.”
The Government of Western Australia remains committed to its Future Batteries and Critical Minerals Strategy. The aim of that strategy is to boost exports, increase inbound investment and deliver high-quality high-paid jobs for Western Australians in the sector.
It is also designed to incentivise and nurture the capture of further value locally, with a particular focus on securing a Precursor Cathode Active Materials (PCAM) chemical production facility at the Government’s preferred site within the Kwinana Strategic Industrial Area on Perth’s southern metropolitan fringe.
Examples of companies successfully moving further down the refining flowsheet referenced by Minister Johnston in his address included: BHP Nickel West’s nickel sulphate plant in Kwinana; Tianqi Lithium, Albemarle and Covalent Lithium developing separate lithium hydroxide refineries; and Iluka Resources’ commitment to develop a rare earth oxide separation plant at Eneabba.
“We were also very pleased to see the Commonwealth’s support for Pure Battery Technology’s proposal for a PCAM hub outside of Kalgoorlie. That intents to be an integrated nickel, magnesium and cobalt battery material refinery hub and is an important further step in donstream processing,” he said.
“We also want to encourage more PCAM production here in Western Australia and we are currently in discussion with a range of global manufacturers in the PCAM space.”
Through the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia, the State Government is invested in the Future Battery Industries CRC, which is currently installing a pilot plant for a cathode precursor production facility at Curtin University.
“This is aiming to demonstrate our capability to produce cost-effective and high-quality nickel, cobalt and manganese precursor cathode active materials,” Minister Johnston said.
“We believe we offer a number of strategic advantages for a PCAM facility. Firstly, we believe there is opportunity for co-location and integration with supply of processed material inputs and therefore greater supply chain security.”
“We think we have the industrial ecosystem and support to see success for an investor into this important value-adding opportunity.”
“I remind everybody that we have a specific incentive package for a precursor plant at the Kwinana industrial estate and we would very much like to talk with any investor in that space.”