TOWNSVILLE could become a major manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and home energy by 2024 after the Queensland government this week approved a feasibility study.
The approval is the latest step towards the proposed $3 billion lithium-ion battery “gigafactory” as it outlines the viability of the project before committing to construction of the factory by January 2022.
The gigafactory is the concept of NSW-based graphite company Magnis Energy Technologies and its iM3TSV consortium partners that include Boston Energy and Innovation as well as US-based IP company C4V.
Magnis recently announced that C4V had successfully tested a lithium-ion cell with a six-minute charge time. If brought to production, the new battery could slash EV recharging times to as little as six minutes for an 85 per cent charge.
The company said in a statement that a fast-charge battery of C4V’s design could be made in Australia.
Magnis now aims to build an 18-gigawatt facility, resulting in the creation of some 1200 new jobs. The factory will be capable of producing 250,000 EV batteries a year, or one-million home battery units while also providing electricity to the town grid.
A 2019 feasibility study said the development would be staggered and built in three stages, each with an output of 6.6 gigawatts.
The iM3TSV project members now plan to complete capital raising and make a final investment decision on construction by the end of the 2020/21 financial year, meaning construction could start by January 1, 2022, with commercial operations potentially starting by January 1, 2024.
The consortium has a similar 15 giga-Watt battery plant in New York that is close to being ready for production with plans to have test batteries available by the end of this year.
Magnis chairman Frank Poullas said energy security was a “major topic” and fitted with the gigafactory proposal along with the creation of local manufacturing and employment.
China is the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery producer, meeting 80 per cent of the world’s demand with brands including Panasonic, LG and Samsung.
Magnis’ graphite mine in Tanzania is one of the biggest resources for large-flake graphite – a key component in battery anode production – with the non-mental to be used in a cobalt- and nickel-free battery, substantially reducing the purchasing costs and avoiding any potential supply issues.