Townsville is set to become a hub for vanadium flow battery production with a recent agreement between Idemitsu Australia, Sumitomo Electric Industries and Vecco Group to market, sell and deliver vanadium batteries from North Queensland.

Vanadium flow batteries are set to be a key part of Australia’s energy storage mix with demand rapidly increasing around the globe.

The collaboration will see a complete manufacturing supply chain built in North Queensland, from mining to energy storage.

Under the non-exclusive agreement, Idemitsu plans to market, sell and deliver vanadium flow batteries to Australian customers using Sumitomo Electric hardware and Vecco’s electrolyte made from vanadium mined in Queensland’s north west minerals province. 

Vecco Group will mine and refine high purity vanadium at its Julia Creek mine and manufacture battery electrolyte in Townsville. Detailed design for a commercial production facility is underway. 

The manufacturing supply chain is expected to be operational in 2026.

Vecco Group received support from the Industry Partnership Program to establish Australia’s first vanadium electrolyte manufacturing facility, which is currently operational in Townsville.

To cater for the growth expected under this new agreement, Vecco has now secured a 3.2ha site at Cleveland Bay Industrial Park (CBIP), in the Townsville State Development Area, for its commercial production facility.

An end-to-end vanadium flow battery manufacturing supply chain means Queenslanders making batteries in Queensland from critical minerals mined in Queensland. 

This is expected to result in more blue-collar mining and manufacturing jobs in North Queensland providing the batteries needed for renewable energy.

Queensland Premier, Steven Miles, said, “Today’s announcement shows how our 75 per cent emissions reduction target by 2035 secures investment in new blue-collar clean economy jobs across our regions.”

Mr Miles said that the agreement is taking vanadium from Julia Creek – one of the world’s biggest and best vanadium resources – and turning it into batteries in the state, creating more local jobs.

“We know those batteries will provide deep storage into our own grid, but today we are taking it a step further.

“This means manufacturing the vanadium flow batteries needed in Australia to transition to renewable energy and supplying vanadium electrolyte to the world.”

Queensland Resources Minister and Townsville MP, Scott Stewart, said, “There is potentially $500 billion dollars of critical minerals in the North West Minerals Province and vanadium is one of the commodities Queensland can supply to the world. 

“I have always said if we don’t manufacture our future someone else will and this announcement puts Townsville on the path to an even more exciting future.”

Member for Mundingburra, Les Walker, said, “Queensland minerals to Queensland made – that’s what Queenslanders want and we are delivering just that for Townsville and Queensland.

“Copperstring is a key enabler of our critical minerals industry which is why the Miles Government is backing this $5 billion project.”

Thuringowa MP, Aaron Harper, said having this full manufacturing supply chain means jobs for people in Townsville which is incredibly important.

“It’s exciting to have international eyes on Townsville which means good jobs and that is why this government continues to back projects like this.”

 Vecco Group Managing Director, Tom Northcott, said demand for vanadium flow batteries is rapidly increasing to meet the world’s energy storage demands. 

“Over 7.4GWh of vanadium flow battery projects globally are currently under construction or have been announced in the last 12 months. 

“The decision for Idemitsu to market and deploy vanadium flow batteries using Sumitomo and Vecco products acknowledges the scale of the opportunity.”

Townsville Enterprise CEO, Claudia Brumme-Smith, said, “Townsville Enterprise is pleased to see our member Vecco reach this important milestone. It’s a testament to the growth opportunity in our region that Vecco and its investment partners are working towards bringing end-to-end manufacturing in critical minerals and battery manufacturing to Townsville.”

Ms Brumme-Smith said the ultimate goal would be to have the batteries branded as ‘Made in Townsville’ and used in Queensland for storing renewable energy.

“We know that relationships are the keystone to doing good business and having worked with Vecco over a number of years, and meeting with Sumitomo and Idemitsu in recent visits to Japan last year, awareness of Townsville is growing exponentially.

“This region is a case study for how public and private sector investment can work hand in hand to create meaningful contributions to local jobs, enhanced liveability for our community, and building economies of scale right here in North Queensland – Australia’s most liveable green manufacturing city.

“The recent flurry of announcements – from hydrogen, Sustainable Aviation Fuel, and now to end-to-end battery manufacturing, is the result of what we have said and believed all along – that the CopperString effect would pay dividends for our region, and now this is truly becoming a reality, and major private sector investors are turning their attention to Townsville North Queensland as a global renewable energy powerhouse.”

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