Australian Vanadium set to open Mullewa refinery in 2023

Edward ScownGeraldton Guardian
Vincent Algar, managing director of Australian Vanadium, is trying to get a drive-in, drive-out vanadium project up and running near Mullewa.

Photo Ross Swanborough. 050118
Camera IconVincent Algar, managing director of Australian Vanadium, is trying to get a drive-in, drive-out vanadium project up and running near Mullewa. Photo Ross Swanborough. 050118 Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian Newspaper

Australian Vanadium Limited, owners of the largest Vanadium prospect in the country near Meekatharra, has revealed plans to open a processing plant near Mullewa in 2023 with a largely local drive-in, drive-out workforce.

The site is expected to provide 250 jobs during construction, with 120 full-time positions for the expected 25-year life of the plant.

“It’s actually an optimum location for us,” AVL managing director Vincent Algar said.

“You don’t want to be in town, right on top of everybody, but we didn’t want to be so far away that we couldn’t contribute to the economy of the town.”

Mr Algar said a priority of the project was to hire local workers, avoiding the fly-in, fly-out schedule.

“We want to show that mining projects can have a lifestyle as well. The guys and girls can come home from work, go to the beach and do the things they want to do,” he said.

AVL has held an option on land in Tenindewa, west of Mullewa, since 2018, and chose to renew the option again in November. While it is yet to purchase the land, water drilling has been completed, giving the proposed plant an independent water source.

“Water supply, land rezoning, transport routes and final approvals over the site and roads are important steps on the pathway to bring the project into production,” Mr Algar said.

Vanadium mined from a site 43km south of Meekatharra will be crushed and extracted before being transported to the Tenindewa plant for refining.

The refining process separates vanadium from a titanium and iron byproduct, which will be sold through Geraldton port at a rate of about 1Mt per year.

“It’s quite a specialist product. It’s used for blast furnace protection so there’s a big market for it in China,” Mr Algar said.

The vanadium portion will be transported to Kwinana, where it will be used by AVL subsidiary VSUN Energy to make batteries for grid energy storage, which AVL plans to use on its own sites, as well as selling to other mining companies.

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