Qld startup Lava Blue spearheads manufacturing innovation in battery industry

The Lava Blue Limited team had the honour of welcoming the Honourable Grace Grace MP, Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, and Industrial Relations, to their PRiSM facility, accompanied by Ms Kim Richards, Member for Redlands, and Mr Don Brown, Member for Capalaba. Image credit: Lava Blue's LinkedIn

The Queensland Government is actively advancing its goal to establish the state as the battery industry capital of Australia, with startup Lava Blue poised to expand its Predictive Research into Speciality Materials (PRiSM) centre focused on manufacturing advancements.

Minister for State Development Grace Grace has recently embarked on a visit to PRiSM to witness Lava Blue’s groundbreaking research firsthand, particularly in the development of a cutting-edge process for producing High Purity Alumina (HPA).

Since 2018, Lava Blue has been at the forefront of collaboration with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to pioneer a process for HPA production from sapphire-bearing kaolin clay deposits nestled in North West Queensland.

HPA, a fundamental material indispensable in the manufacturing of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and enhancing the performance and safety of lithium-ion batteries, stands as a cornerstone of their manufacturing innovation, the government said in a media release.

Through strategic partnerships with the Vecco Group and Queensland Pacific Metals in North Western and North Queensland, respectively, Lava Blue is revolutionising the utilisation of waste from cobalt and nickel mining activities, transforming them into valuable components for battery manufacturing.

The upcoming phase of the HPA plant’s development marks a pivotal shift from research and demonstration to small-scale commercial production.

The startup aims to ramp up its production capacity to between 800 and 1000 tonnes of HPA per annum, consolidating Queensland’s position in the manufacturing landscape of battery-related materials.

Minister for State Development and Infrastructure Grace Grace expressed the government’s aspiration to position Queensland as Australia’s premier battery industry capital, aiming to ensure that communities directly benefit from the anticipated thousands of jobs and billion-dollar economic opportunities by 2030.

“Whether it’s sustainable aviation fuel in Townsville, hydrogen in Gladstone, or research in the Redlands, the Miles Government is investing in the clean energy jobs of the future,” Minister Grace noted.

Minister for Resources and Critical Minerals Scott Stewart highlighted the substantial opportunities for Queensland in critical minerals, essential components of batteries.

He underscored the vast potential of the North West Minerals Province, boasting potentially $500 billion worth of critical mineral deposits, which are in high demand globally for battery production.

Meanwhile, Lava Blue Director Michael Ford underscored Queensland’s strategic position to leverage the global energy transition, emphasising the state’s potential to lead in critical minerals and batteries.

“This is about great future jobs and prospects for our kids, fantastic opportunities for Queensland businesses, startups and researchers, and strong economic growth for the state, at the same time of doing the right thing globally,” he concluded.

According to the government, the expansion of the facility is poised to showcase the versatility of Lava Blue’s proven HPA processing systems, unlocking opportunities for manufacturing other high-value materials crucial for battery production.