The bid for a lithium battery research centre in WA is gathering steam after being one of six selected to state the case to the federal government.
The $100 million future battery industries cooperative research centre was aimed at positioning Australia as a global leader for battery energy.
Cooperative research centres are funded by both the private, public and education sectors with the aim of researching and developing intellectual property for Australian industries.
The future battery industries centre will capitalise on WA’s bountiful lithium and other battery metals reserves by researching energy storage solutions, potentially creating a battery manufacturing sector here.
The consortium behind the bid includes Curtin University and companies like Lithium Australia and Tianqi Lithium, who is building the country’s first large-scale lithium hydroxide plant in Kwinana.
The state government has pledged $6 million for the centre to be established in WA. To date the consortium has raised about $27 million and was seeking $25 million from the federal government.
“The industry is telling us that there is an urgent need for Australia to take the lead in this next phase of our energy future and the future battery industries centre works to ensure we position ourselves as the global leader in low cost, high quality, technically superior battery materials and technologies,” he said.
“The project will help guide the future of the energy industry by mapping out the pathway for Australia to mine, extract, refine and recycle battery minerals, metals and materials with the required quality controls, as well as completing the value chain through the manufacture, deployment and use of batteries.”
The cooperative research centre bids selected to provide a business case are:
- Advanced Medical Biotechnologies CRC
- Blue Economy CRC
- Future Battery Industries CRC
- Future Cities CRC
- Future Food Systems CRC
- SmartSat CRC
Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said the centres played a vital role in bringing together businesses and researchers from Australia and overseas to solve major industry challenges.
The federal government was expected to announce the successful bids in early 2019.
The announcement came days after the Federal Labor party committed to a range of measures to support growth in battery metal processing and manufacturing in Australia.
If elected the party would partner with state and territory governments like WA, Queensland and the NT to support their efforts in the sector.
They would also task Austrade to develop a manufacturing, export and investment strategy and make research into battery metal processing and battery manufacture a funding priority for the Australian Research Council.
Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief executive Warren Pearce welcomed the announcement.
“This is a modern nation building opportunity, a chance to secure a significant position in a new emerging industry for Australia in what will quickly become one of the largest industries in the world,” he said.
The association estimated the global lithium value chain will grow from $160 billion in 2018 to $2 trillion in 2025.