Mining and metals company Element 25 Limited has received $490,000 in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to examine the viability of using renewable energy in their metal production process.
The project will see E25 test the extent to which renewable energy solutions could be used to power the electrowinning processes in the production of Electrolytic Manganese Metal (EMM) without reducing the quality of the product.
Electrowinning, which typically relies on grid connected power sources that can provide a steady and continuous flow of energy, is an upgrading process where an electric current is passed through a metal salt solution causing the metal to be deposited in an electroplating process.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project will investigate the impact on the electrowinning process utilising high levels of variable energy supply from wind and solar.
“The resource processing sector is an area in which there is currently low penetration of renewables. ARENA is helping to grow the potential of renewables providing viable alternatives to traditional methods through funding the demonstration of integrating new and emerging technologies,” Mr Miller said.
“The use of renewables could be expanded to other types of metal processing, increasing the opportunities for Australia to export renewable energy or emission-free resources to the world.
Element 25’s Executive Director Justin Brown said the project will involve lab scale tests to assess how EMM responds to variable renewable energy, field studies to collect solar and wind resources and a pilot study to examine how EMM production will respond to actual solar and wind data collected in a full scale test.
“Making metals with renewable energy makes sense. If successful, this work will have a significant impact on our project economics, but will also pave the way for other Australian companies to integrate renewable energy into their resource projects to add value right here in Australia,” he concluded.