Queensland’s North West Minerals Province is a significant global source of critical minerals and rare earths with the potential to become a leading producer and exporter of new-economy minerals.
The Queensland Government has allocated $75 million from a $150 million commitment announced in the 2022-2023 State Budget Update in December 2022 for common user infrastructure to support the development, extraction and production of critical minerals.
The Queensland Resources Common User Facility will be located at the Cleveland Bay Industrial Park in Townsville. The facility is intended to trial production processes for commercialisation, enabling prospective miners to begin producing mineral samples at scale.
Initially targeting vanadium production, the facility will be designed and equipped with equipment capable of adaption to trial processes for a range of critical minerals and rare earths.
The aim is to accelerate the development of commercial vanadium projects, promote investment in advanced mineral manufacturing opportunities and enable development of supply chain and supporting industries in Queensland.
Vanadium has many uses, including to create a reliable and safe renewable energy storage solution which can be used in large-scale batteries around the world.
A number of smaller mining companies in Queensland are seeking to develop critical minerals projects like the vanadium projects in the Julia Creek and Richmond regions.
Mining companies and industrial researchers will be able to apply for a licence to use the facility to:
pilot mineral production processes to validate commercial and technical viability
carry out metallurgical and process chemistry research of intermediate and end products to optimise unit operations
train staff on equipment, production processes and hazardous material handling
produce samples for customer testing, assess potential by-products, waste streams and recyclable materials
demonstrate processes at scale to validate commerciality and technical viability to secure finance, investor interest, off-take agreements and partnership arrangements.
The project is currently in the development phase, focused on concept design, preparing cost and schedule estimates, procurement and community engagement. The State has been working in collaboration with potential future users of the facility to identify the base equipment required, develop a base design, and establish an access regime and facility operating arrangements.