Skills gaps addressed in battery mineral processing

battery

Image: BASF

The Western Australian Government has identified several skills gaps to be addressed in the growth of Australia’s battery industries, with some miners reskilling to transition into minerals processing.

The Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC) has commissioned South Metropolitan TAFE (SM TAFE) in Fremantle to compile the ‘Vocational skills gap assessment and workforce development plan.’

The FBICRC has previously identified battery industries as having the potential to create 35,000 jobs and contribute $7 billion to Australia’s economy by 2030.

But to accomplish this, the plan from SM TAFE identified several key pillars to be addressed.

These included:

  • Skills to maintain automation systems;
  • Artificial intelligence and big data;
  • Electrical and mechanical skills;
  • First responders, electricians and mechanics trained in electric vehicles and battery energy storage systems; and
  • New skills for recycling facility workers in the safe handling of lithium-ion batteries.

The report found that demand for batteries is forecast to accelerate and increase by 9- to 10- fold by 2030 and said mine workers would be key to accommodating such growth.

“Vocational skills training is recommended to build on and maintain Australia’s mining strength, support the establishment of the battery minerals refining and processing industry…” the report stated.

North Metropolitan TAFE (NM TAFE) in Perth is already focussing in these areas, training Western Power and Horizon Power workers to install and maintain power systems, while also training minerals extraction miners to process battery minerals.

Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Johnston said the government recognised the importance of transitioning some workers into battery industries.

“Like other places around the world, Western Australia is experiencing a rapid energy transformation with 50 per cent of households expected to have rooftop solar by 2030,” he said.

“Our State is well placed to cater for the rising demand for lithium-ion batteries, which are used in energy storage systems, electric vehicles, laptops and mobile phones.”

The report stated that the mining and production of battery mineral concentrates did not require any new skills to be addressed, however battery minerals mining projects are subject to skills shortages overall.

“A focus on battery minerals projects may be appropriate to ensure access to workers,” the report stated.

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