Vanadium Common User Facility

Queensland’s North West Minerals Province is a significant global source of vanadium with the potential to become a leading producer and exporter of new-economy minerals.

Vanadium is being used to create a reliable and safe renewable energy storage solution which can be used in large-scale batteries around the world. Vanadium is also important in strengthening steel alloys, manufacturing superconducting magnets and smart glass products, as a medical treatment, dye for ceramics and fabrics and manufacturing sulphuric acid.

A number of smaller mining companies in Queensland are seeking to develop vanadium projects in the Julia Creek and Richmond regions, where there are world-class resources and the vanadium occurs at shallow depth and is easily accessible.

At least $10 million has been committed from the Invested in Queensland program towards a vanadium common user facility in Townsville as an industrial pilot and demonstration facility for mineral processing.

The facility will feature a base set of processing equipment, with a target nominal production capacity of feed ore still under consideration. It is intended that while other minerals could be trialled, design decisions are being focused on vanadium in the first instance, but ensuring that other minerals are not precluded in the future.

The facility is intended to trial production processes for commercialisation, enabling prospective miners to begin producing mineral samples at scale. 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 ore will be transported from Julia Creek – and potentially other sites – to the Townsville site. It will be processed through a series of methods including separation, flotation and roasting, before refining through a kiln and fusion furnace to produce the vanadium pentoxide.

Mining companies and industrial researchers will be able to apply for a licence to use the facility to:

  • carry out metallurgical research
  • trial mineral extraction processes at small scale
  • produce vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) samples for customer testing
  • assess potential by-products and waste streams
  • demonstrate processes at scale to validate commerciality and technical viability in order to secure finance, investor interest, off-take agreements and partnership arrangements.

The following guiding principles are proposed to inform the delivery of the facility, user access and operations:

  • The facility will contain advanced equipment for use by technical experts in mineral extraction to prove resource process technology and enable commercial scale product testing.
  • The facility will be flexible to accommodate testing of prospective vanadium ore processing technologies at a demonstration scale to inform feasibility studies by mine proponents.
  • It is intended the State will recover reasonable costs for activities undertaken solely by corporate entities.
  • The State may make the facilities available to research commercialisation entities of a university or other research entities at rates intended to reflect the real cost of usage.

The project is currently in a preliminary development phase, focused on concept design, investigating site options, 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.

The State welcomes interest from the private sector in the future use of the facility. Please contact VCUFInfo@treasury.qld.gov.au for further information.

Last updated: 4 October 2022