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While Australia talks the big talk about being a critical minerals and battery metals superpower, backed by the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, Australian metals companies continue to be lured overseas by deeper financial markets and more supportive government policies, writes Peter Roberts.
Element 25 has become the latest to site in the United States where the Biden government’s $520 billion available to attract industry and increase manufacturing self reliance through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has created a frenzy of announcements and projects.
The company announced that General Motors LLC (GM) had completed due diligence and accepted the company’s Feasibility Study to supply battery grade high-purity manganese sulphate (HPMSM) to support GM’s electric vehicle (EV) battery requirements.
World-leading grinding media manufacturer Molycop will end steelmaking at its site at Waratah, near Newcastle, and make 250 positions redundant, it was announced on Thursday morning.
The steelmaking would be put on “care and maintenance” in a restructure and the workforce of 540 on site reduced by 250.
Molycop, which has been owned by private equity firm American Industrial Partners since 2016, said it will continue to manufacture grinding media, rail wheels and other specialised steel products at Waratah. It would “also expand investment in its core consumables product lines, as well as its Molycop 360 and Molycop Process Optimisation businesses”.
The constructor of the United States’ Virginia class submarines Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) is the latest company to invest further in Australia on the promise of submarine construction under the AUKUS pact.
Babcock International, which has been positioning itself to provide infrastructure for nuclear powered submarines in Perth and Adelaide has combined with Newport News-based HII to ‘provide critical capability requirements’ for the AUKUS submarine programme’.
Australia is to buy Virginia class submarines from the US as it develops submarine building capabilities in Adelaide and nuclear vessel support and maintenance infrastructure in Perth where N-submarines will be based.
The LIBERTY Primary Steel steelworks at Whyalla in South Australia has unloaded its last-ever consignment of coal as the company continues its transition to green steel production.
Owned by GFG Alliance, Liberty set mid September as the closure of its coal-fed coke-making ovens and the transition from a coke-fed blast furnace to a more environmentally friendly electric arc furnace (EAF).
Head of Integrated Planning Hayley Perkins said: “It is the most significant change from the traditional process of producing steel that I’ve seen in my 55 years at the steelworks.
The Victorian government has announced that construction of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility is ahead of schedule and at the halfway mark, with completion expected next year.
State industry minister Ben Carroll visited Monash University’s Clayton precinct on Monday morning, where the US-based biotechnology company will eventually have capacity for 100 million vaccine doses per year.
The beginning of construction was announced in late-2022.
And in case you missed our podcast…
In episode 70 of @AuManufacturing Conversation with Brent Balinski, Joseph Kenrick from Lunar Outpost Oceania tells us about the many difficulties in building a rover for lunar missions, his observations about the local space sector, upcoming opportunities for Australians to be involved in designing excavation systems for the locally-built rover, and more.
Picture: credit Moderna