Advanced manufacturing identified as one of Queensland's emerging export strengths

Friday 21 December, 2018 | By: Trade & Investment Queensland

A Queensland company offering a new and better way to produce essential battery materials is making connections in the European market with TIQ’s support.

Brisbane-based Pure Battery Technologies (PBT) has commercialised a cheaper, more effective and more environmentally friendly way of extracting nickel and cobalt from low-grade ore.

The process is based on work originally carried out by metallurgists at The University of Queensland.

PBT Managing Director and CEO Bjorn Zikarsky said global demand for batteries was growing at about 15% each year, with the increasing popularity of electric vehicles a major factor.

‘This is driving up demand for both nickel and cobalt, with the demand for cobalt exceeding supply globally,’ he said.

‘We are using UQ’s patented acid leaching process to produce battery-ready nickel and cobalt products more easily, and at lower capital and operational expense.

‘This process also offers a higher cobalt recovery than is currently possible, is energy-efficient with little solid waste or tailings, and has a very small footprint.’

PBT is establishing a demonstration plant in Brisbane, and plans to open a manufacturing plant in Townsville.

Mr Zikarsky was in London in late November, where he met with 14 potential investors and partners at a roundtable organised by TIQ’s London office.

Queensland Deputy Trade and Investment Commissioner for Europe Warren Bartlett said interest in the new extraction technology was strong.

‘There are major opportunities and challenges associated with the global scramble to replace fossil fuels with clean energy,’ Mr Bartlett said.

‘Worldwide, we have rapidly growing demand for smart devices and vehicles that need batteries, and this is creating major interest in battery-critical materials like lithium, nickel and cobalt.

‘As demand for those materials rises, along with their cost, there’s a major opportunity for the cost-effective process being offered by Pure Battery Technologies.’

Mr Bartlett said the roundtable had also identified opportunities to address environmental issues related to battery production.

‘Interestingly, the roundtable discussion with industry stakeholders also highlighted the equally important issue of spiralling environmental costs associated with battery production,’ he said.

‘PBT’s unique process also offers environmental improvements in the downstream processing of nickel and cobalt.

‘We’re looking forward to working with PBT and will continue to encourage European battery producers, electric-vehicle manufacturers and industry stakeholders to monitor the progress of PBT’s demonstration plant in Queensland.’

TIQ Mining and Resources staff in Brisbane are also working with PBT to explore international export and investment opportunities.

Queensland is gaining international prominence in battery and electric-vehicle technology, with local company Tritium also making global inroads with its high-powered chargers for electric vehicles.

Tritium was recently named Queensland’s Exporter of the Year at the Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards 2018.

Advanced manufacturing is identified as one of Queensland’s emerging export strengths in the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022.

This article was originally published on Trade & Investment Queensland.

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