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Vanadium

What is vanadium?

Vanadium (V) is a type of metal that is highly durable, but also soft and pliant.

It’s extremely strong; just a small amount of vanadium added to steel alloys can strengthen the material to make it shock and vibration proof.

Where is vanadium found?

Vanadium isn’t found in its metal form in nature. Instead, it’s found in mineralised deposits. Over 60 types of minerals and various types of rocks are known to contain vanadium.

There are a number of companies exploring and developing vanadium resources near Julia Creek in Queensland, with the aim of supplying the growing demand for vanadium in the energy storage sector.

Trucks and machinery gathered on a desert landscape carrying out vanadium exploration in the North West Minerals Province
Vanadium exploration at Saint Elmo as part of Multicom Resources Limited Saint Elmo Vanadium Project in the North West Minerals Provence

How is vanadium used?

Vanadium can be used in a lot of different ways.

Most of the world’s mined vanadium is currently being used to make steel. For example, it has been used in large construction projects like the Birds Nest stadium in Beijing, Wembley Stadium in London and the Freedom Tower in New York City.

If you own hand or power tools, it’s likely you’ll find they are stamped to say they contain vanadium.

Vanadium redox flow batteries

It’s the use of vanadium in creating batteries that has put this element front and centre in conversations about renewable energy.

Vanadium redox flow batteries can store energy for long periods of time. They can be reused many times over because they don’t degrade, and the electrolyte in the battery can be recycled after their long life span of at least 20 years. They can be attached to an existing energy grid or used to store energy off-grid to be used when needed, and are perfect for storing solar and wind energy.

As Queensland progresses toward its renewable energy target, batteries, firming and other storage options will become increasingly important for a reliable system. We need to use batteries when working with renewable energy to store excess energy during times of low demand, then release it when there is more demand. Vanadium batteries are ideal for this purpose.

View looking down at the inside of a warehouse with machinery carrying out vanadium battery electrolyte processes
Vanadium electrolyte facility – VECCO Group’s vanadium battery electrolyte facility in Townsville

Vanadium processing

The Queensland Resources Common User Facility, located at the Cleveland Bay Industrial Park in Townsville, is intended to be operational for vanadium processing in 2025, with capacity to expand over time to encompass processing other critical minerals like cobalt and rare earth elements.

The facility is a key action in the Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan and supports the delivery of the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan, as well as the Queensland Critical Minerals Strategy.

Last updated
02 February 2024
Last reviewed
01 February 2024