The current high price of vanadium, being led by traditional demand sources into record territory, is likely to firm in the long term as the metal develops into one of the solutions to the 21st century’s energy demand.
At least that’s what’s bolstering the confidence of emerging junior miner, Brisbane-based Multicom Resources.
The price of vanadium pentoxide in China topped out at a 13-year high of $US33.90/lb last month. It was $US24.60/lb yesterday (Mon 17 Dec18).
A big boost in demand has resulted from new building standards set by the Chinese government for rebar, the vanadium additive which is used to strengthen steel.
Those changes came into effect in November. Despite the highest price
seen since 2005, it seems the impact of vanadium’s place as a principal component in larger-scale energy storage is yet to be fully realised.
Multicom Resources is positioning itself as a regional supplier, not only of the raw material, but of vanadium flow batteries. Chief executive officer Shaun McCarthy told a recent IMARC conference in Melbourne that the company had a 493Mt JORC compliant resource at 0.3 per cent vanadium pentoxide.
That represented 1.38Mt in recoverable metal from its St Elmo’s lease near Julia Creek in North-West Queensland.
To put that in perspective, global consumption in 2017 was 180,000t.
Mr McCarthy said the North Queensland play had created a lot of excitement.
“I guess having a locally-based company that’s in a project development phase looking to bring some onshore production of vanadium to Australia, yes, we’re quite happy with feedback,” he said.
The company is working on a pre- feasibility study to confirm its approach, including a target production rate of 10,000t/annum over 20 years.
This included the prospect of an initial public offer, Mr McCarthy said.
“Our focus at the moment is to get through our pre-feasibility study and get an environmental impact statement submitted in early 2019,” he said.
“Those are the milestones for the company and then we’ll really assess where we’re at in the early part of next year and how we take this forward in terms of financing the next phase of works.”
The potential of the project has been recognised by local authorities, including McKinlay Shire Council and Townsville City Council, as well as the State Government.