Western Australian Government delivers battery industry strategy

The McGowan Government has launched the Western Australian Future Battery Industry Strategy, designed to aid the state’s growth as a battery minerals exporter.

The strategy was launched today by Premier Mark McGowan and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston, who said it signified the government’s “commitment to establishing a world-leading, sustainable, value-adding battery industry in our state”.

McGowan added that it was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Western Australia”.

“Our Future Battery Industry Strategy will drive the development of the Western Australian battery materials industry that will create local jobs, contribute to skills development and economic diversification, and maximise benefits to regional communities,” he added.

Western Australia is a significant hub for minerals used in the manufacture of renewable batteries. It is the leading producer of hard rock lithium in Australia, which is in turn the largest lithium producing country in the world, having overtaken Chile for the title last year.

Western Australia currently accounts for around half of global supply for the metal, with seven producing mines currently in operation.

WA also produces large volumes of nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements (REE), which are also used for renewable battery production.

The first initiative of the strategy will focus on strengthening relationships with global investors and manufacturers to attract investment to the state.

The government will then look to address future skill gaps and improve infrastructure and funding for small-to-medium sized technology companies. The government plans to contribute $6 million for energy storage systems if successful in its bit to host a Perth-based cooperative research centre (CRC) devoted to battery industry growth and development.

“The McGowan Government is a major supporter of the Future Battery Industries CRC bid as it will contribute industry focused research to Western Australian companies across the entire battery industries value chain,” said WA Science Minster Dave Kelly.

“The CRC will support value chain research such as manufacturing next generation products that will bolster efficiency, reliability and safety of energy storage systems.”

The value of the battery metal market (particularly lithium) is expected to surge in the next few years as countries across the world continue to increase their adoption of battery-powered electric vehicles to meet emissions targets.

The global lithium battery market is expected to grow from its 2016 value of $US31.17 billion to $US67.7 billion by the end of 2022, according to information from Zion Market Research.

Similar research from GlobalData last year predicted that lithium production would jump from 26,700 tonnes to 58,300 tonnes from 2018-2022.

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