Technology Metals Australia Ltd (ASX:TMT) has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with one of the world’s largest steelmakers, setting the stage for vanadium sourcing discussions.
TMT will work with India’s Tata Steel, part of the global Tata Group, to investigate whether there is room for downstream technology collaboration, which could lead to joint development of ferrovanadium production facilities in India and Western Australia.
In addition to this, Tata Steel will also discuss potential investments in Technology Metals Australia and/or its Murchison Technology Metals Project (MTMP), which will produce high-purity vanadium pentoxide and possibly other downstream products, Such as vanadium electrolyte, ferrovanadium and vanadium nitride.
Strategic Steelmaking Minerals
Vanadium products are an integral part of the steel industry – they increase the strength, toughness and wear resistance of ferroalloys.
In fact, mixing a kilogram of vanadium with a ton of steel doubles the strength of the alloy.
The construction industry is the largest consumer of steel products, and vanadium plays a vital role in providing cost-effective solutions to increase the strength of rebar in buildings, tunnels and bridges, as well as enhance steel’s resistance to fire and earthquakes and corrosion resistance.
Vanadium is also used in aerospace applications to provide low density, high strength and strength at high operating temperatures – critical for components such as aero-engine gas turbines and airframes.
In automobiles, the incorporation of vanadium helps to improve strength, reliability, ease of manufacture and the highest strength-to-weight ratio, thereby minimizing fuel consumption and improving economics.
Beyond industry, however, research also shows that the global energy transition depends on strategic minerals like vanadium, which is versatile enough to support technologies that can decarbonize the construction industry.
Where does TMT come from?
Technology Metals is developing the high-grade Murchison Technology Metals project located 50km south of Meekatharra in Western Australia.
The project aims to be a stable, secure, long-term supplier of key minerals such as vanadium, and is expected to produce 27.5 million pounds of vanadium pentoxide per year over the initial 25-year mine life.
MTMP has estimated ore reserves of 44.48 million tonnes at a grade of 0.89% vanadium pentoxide, located between the Gabanintha and Yarrabubba deposits.
Realizing the potential of this reserve is the entry point for Tata Steel.
About Tata Steel
Tata Steel is the world’s 10th largest steelmaker with a turnover of nearly $33 billion in FY22.
The steelmaking giant, which produces up to 34 million tonnes of steel annually, uses ferrovanadium and vanadium nitride in its steel alloying process to improve the material’s strength and wear resistance.
Rajiv Mukerji, Group Vice President, Strategic Procurement, Tata Steel, said: “Vanadium is a key component in improving strength and reducing weight in Tata Steel’s steelmaking process, and as our customers increasingly look to reduce carbon emissions, we expect to see increased demand for these products. demand will grow.
“The opportunity to develop primary vanadium and ferrovanadium production in partnership with Technology Metals Australia Limited is in line with Tata Steel’s strategy to ensure a reliable and stable supply of raw materials to meet customers’ future product needs.”
Reducing emissions in steel applications
Ian Prentice, managing director of TMT, said his company was delighted to be working with one of the world’s largest steelmakers and furthering Australia’s important trade relationship with India.
“High-purity vanadium pentoxide from MTMP is important for the production of low-emission ferrovanadium and vanadium nitride, which Tata Steel uses in its steelmaking process,” he explained.
“As the world moves towards net zero carbon emissions, TMT and Tata Steel can play an important role in reducing emissions from steel applications.”
The MoU between TMT and Tata Steel establishes a framework for ongoing discussions on off-take, technical cooperation and financing support for TMT and MTMP or any downstream processing opportunities.
One of the key areas of discussion is potential technical cooperation, which will assess the viability of the following technologies:
- Ferrovanadium and vanadium nitride products, vanadium content and impurities and their effect on steel properties/quality and value in use; and
- Optimum production processing routes in India and Australia, relevant environmental regulations, availability and cost of inputs required for production.
TMT and Tata Steel will also investigate whether vanadium pentoxide in MTMP can be used to produce ferrovanadium and vanadium nitride, and whether Tata’s investment can accelerate the production of new major vanadium resources.
Finally, both parties will consider whether it is worthwhile to jointly invest in downstream processing.
Notably, this non-binding MoU is valid for five years unless the parties agree to formally terminate before that deadline.