The Western Australian government hopes to attract one of the world’s first renewably powered magnesium smelters, to be hosted by the state’s coal-heavy Collie region.
On Thursday, WA’s regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan announced that the WA government would provide $280,000 towards a feasibility study into the Magnesium Refinery being considered by Magnium Australia.
Magnium Australia is looking to deploy innovations developed by the CSIRO that can support the production of high-quality critical minerals through the use of renewable energy, having signed an exclusive commercialisation agreement for its MagSonic technology.
The McGowan government will provide the funding through the Collie Futures Industry Development Fund, established to help the coal-heavy region transition industries onto renewable energy and into carbon neutral operations.
“This study could lead to a significant opportunity for Western Australia to position itself as a leader in developing innovative and environmentally sustainable forms of metals production,” MacTiernan said.
“We see huge potential for green mineral processing in WA, and this project would be a game-changer for Collie – delivering a world-leading industry for the community.”
“The McGowan government is continuing to invest to diversify the Collie economy away from a reliance on the coal industry, investigating new industries with potential for local jobs,” MacTiernan added.
The WA government sees the potential for a carbon neutral magnesium smelter as a step towards boosting the state’s share of a growing critical minerals market and as a response to the increasing demand for the materials used in battery production, renewable energy technologies and electronics.
Last year, the WA state government commissioned an analysis that found the state held reserves of almost all the raw materials needed to produce battery technologies and other renewables products. The study estimated that the global battery market could grow to become as large as $136 billion by 2030.
The construction of a magnesium smelter would help to ‘value-add’ the state’s raw magnesium reserves, bringing a potentially lucrative new revenue source for a region previously dominated by coal.
The Collie region has been host to two coal mines and three power stations, which includes the Muja power station that is in the process of being closed and the Bluewaters power station, which was recently written off as worthless by its owners, after being squeezed out of the market by the growth of rooftop solar.
Local state MLA, Jodie Hanns, welcomed the prospect of new post-coal industries being established in the region.
“Collie is already gaining attention for the diverse range of new industries choosing to set up here, so I welcome the potential for this exciting new magnesium production facility,” Hanns said.
“The town has a skilled workforce, a range of industrial land as well as good access to energy and transport infrastructure to support export focused industries, so it makes sense to investigate Collie as a desired location for this new energy-intensive industry.”
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