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Iluka reveals capital cost of rare earths refinery

Perth minerals company Iluka Resources has revealed a $1.5 to $1.8 billion capital cost of Australia’s first integrated rare earths refinery for producing rare earths oxides at Eneabba in Western Australia. The estimate comes from Iluka and Fluor who are optimising the project and conducting FEED work. The project is a strategic partnership between Iluka and the federal government supported by a $1.25 billion non-recourse loan from the government under the government’s Critical Minerals Facility. The refinery will produce rare earth oxides from tailings accumulated at Eneabba in the processing of mineral sands.

Ark Energy appoints Michael Choi as CEO

Renewables and green hydrogen business Ark Energy Corporation has announced Michael Choi as its new Chief Executive Officer. Michael has been a director of Ark Energy since it was founded in 2021 and part of parent company Korea Zinc’s senior leadership team since 2017. He brings to the role a deep level of knowledge and experience in Korea Zinc Australia’s businesses, and is also a director of Sun Metals, Townsville Logistics and Townsville Marine Logistics. Michael’s appointment follows the resignation of Daniel Kim who the company said had led it to become one of Australia’s leading renewable energy companies.

Proteomics to raise $6.5 million

Perth biotechnology group Proteomics International Laboratories has received commitments from institutional investors for a $6.5 million share placement. Founder Dr Richard Lipscombe will sell down $2 million of his shares to facilitate the placement without additional equity dilution. Funds raised will be used to commercialise the company’s PromarkerD predictive test for diabetic kidney disease and the development of the company’s diagnostics pipeline.

Starpharma secures VivaGel sales agreement for mENA region

Pharmaceutical developer Starpharma has secured a sales and distribution agreement for the Middle East and North America (MENA) region for its VivaGel non-antibiotic gel for combatting bacterial vaginosis. The agreement with Dubai company ITROM Pharmaceutical Group covers 13 countries where there is a 25 percent prevalence of the condition among a female population of 238 million, indicating a need for effective therapies and an opportunity for Starpharma. Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal condition affecting women aged 15 to 44.

Sparc receives $1.4m R&D tax refund

Technology development company Sparc Technologies has received a $1.422 million R&D tax refund for FY23 from the federal government. The funds will be used to support the company’s existing projects in graphene, green hydrogen and sodium ion batteries. Under the scheme, companies can receive up to a 48.5 percent refundable tax offset of expenses on R&D activities.

Rio renewables announcement an exciting first step: aluminium industry

Industry body the Australian Aluminium Council has called a 25-year power purchase agreement between Rio Tinto and European Energy Australia “exciting news for Australia’s aluminium industry”. Rio announced on Wednesday that it will buy all power generated by the Upper Calliope solar farm for 25 years, saying that “If combined with more renewable power and suitable firming, transmission and industrial policy,” it could be core to a solution to repower Rio’s Boyne aluminium smelter, Yarwun alumina refinery, and the Queensland Alumina refinery. Marghanita Johnson, CEO, Australian Aluminium Council responded: “While this is the first step and still requires firming and transmission, it indicates that this is an industry with real opportunity and potential to transition to a clean energy future… Australia has a large bauxite resource and alumina refining, aluminium smelting and downstream manufacturing base, and under the right framework has the potential for future large scale, low-emissions industrial production, with social and economic benefits to match.”

Additive Manufacturing CRC to hold industry workshop next week

The AMCRC (Additive Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre, which recently merged with the Surface Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre) is holding an industry workshop on additive manufacturing on Tuesday, January 30 at Curtin University. The event will run 2 pm – 5 pm (local time) and is free to register for. According to an outline, it will cover topics including the Additive Manufacturing CRC‘s bid and its plans, additive manufacturing expertise offered at Curtin, and manufacturing industry challenges versus international competition. More information is available here.

$1.3 million announced for Victorian Women in Energy and Manufacturing Funding Program

The Victorian government has opened applications for a new round of grants through the Women in Energy and Manufacturing Funding Program, with a further $1.3 million made available for organisations through the project. According to a statement on Tuesday, the program will support organisations “to attract, recruit and retain women and remove barriers in these historically male-dominated workforces.” The first grants round supported initiatives including mentorship programs for women run by the National Association of Women in Operations through virtual group and one-on-one sessions and school awareness campaigns for solar energy careers run by Australian Women in Solar Energy. Women account for 32 per cent of Victoria’s manufacturing workforce, and 33 per cent of the electricity, gas, water and waste services industries. Applications for the grant round close on February 20, with more information available here.

Robotics researcher retires from QUT

Robotics researcher and educator Peter Corke has retired from the Queensland University of Technology Corke came to QUT after leading CSIRO’s Autonomous Systems Laboratory between 2004 and 2009, and has worked on projects involving mining automation, drones, undersea vehicles, agricultural robots and more. Recently, he was distinguished professor of robotic vision at QUT and director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Robotic Vision, which ran from 2014 to 2020. “Last Friday we said farewell to our former Director Peter Corke” said the QUT Centre for Robotics in an update on Linkedin. Peter has been instrumental in robotic vision and providing free online educational resources in robotics for decades. He will be missed but will be continuing at QUT as an Emeritus Distinguished Professor in honor of his contributions to the university and in research.”

Picture: credit UniSA

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