WA Government Boosts Backing For Battery Industry Research Centre Bid


Western Australia has been stated to be the ‘one-stop shop’ for all battery materials, as a result the McGowan Government has backed up with more funds to support a bid seeking to establish the Future Batteries Industry Cooperative Research Centre (FBI CRC) in Perth.

Australia has a significant resource of “new energy” especially in Western Australia, with raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, vanadium, graphite and numerous other earth elements that are required for manufacturing batteries for solar energy, electric vehicle and various other applications. 

The recent  boom in electric cars could potentially more than quadruple the global demand for cobalt. To the point of an excess of 408,000 tonnes by the year 2030, (according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance).

The FBI CRC aim to position Australia globally as strategic partner in providing reliable, high quality batteries and materials.

The country has excelled at finding materials in the ground and shipping them across the world. The FBI CRC however, will also define opportunities for value-adding, manufacturing energy storage systems and associated technologies. They will also assist establishment with the governments polices and regulations to help domesticate the growth in future battery industries alongside export growth. Furthermore, it will provide valuable and extensive recycling capacity for high value energy materials. 

Western Australia’s Government has stated its investment was a staggering $5.5 million into the Minerals Research Institute (of WA), with an additional $500,000 from the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and innovation to support a bid for the FBI CRC and start calling Perth home.

“The McGowan Government is proud to be a partner in a project of global significance with the potential to transform the nation’s use of energy through collaborative research,”  said Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston. “A CRC based in Perth will provide substantial economic benefits and create new jobs in the growing battery metals and mining equipment, technology and services sectors.”

The industry participants and the Federal Governments (as well as other research organisations) are also jointly funding the research centres for up to 10 years. FBI CRC is proposed to be 5 years, this however is dependent on final research and project time lines. The businesses and government of Western Australia have targeted a further $25 million, to support the bid, but will be a collective $27 million by July. If the bid is successful, the federal government will support with an additional $25 million.

Stage 1 expression of interest applications have closes early this month and stage 2 commenced. The successful bid will be announced in March 2019, with the FBI CRC commencing in July 2019.