A partnership between Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and Tivan to further develop a new vanadium processing technology (TIVAN+) exhibits a step towards advancing the energy transition through critical minerals. 

The partnership combines the critical minerals processing intellectual property and expertise of both parties in an industry-shaping collaboration. 

The partnership involves a Technology Licence Agreement (TLA) between the two companies, providing Tivan with an exclusive 20-year worldwide licence (except India) for use of CSIRO’s critical minerals processing intellectual property to recover vanadium that will underpin the evolved TIVAN+ technology.

A Research Services Agreement was also formed between the two to formalise collaboration on technology development in support of the TLA and to facilitate a TIVAN+ Pilot Plant project as a precursor to future full-scale commercialisation of the technology.

Vanadium is a critical mineral and demand is predicted to grow significantly as it is increasingly being used for renewable energy storage systems, like redox flow batteries. 

Prior to this announcement, Tivan and CSIRO had engaged in extensive knowledge sharing of their VTM processing intellectual property and had identified a strategic opportunity to consolidate efforts to develop TIVAN+ as an optimal process based on defined aspects of their respective flowsheets.

The newly formed partnership will facilitate the development and commercialisation of the pre-existing TIVAN+ critical minerals processing technology, as well bring together the critical minerals processing intellectual property and expertise of both parties in an industry shaping collaboration of national significance.

In recent years, CSIRO developed and patented a novel mineral process to recover vanadium, titanium and iron in the form of their oxides from vanadiferous titanomagnetite (VTM) ore and ilmenite concentrates, using a different flowsheet relative to the TIVAN Process. 

In April 2023, the Tivan announced it had confirmed the preferred, longer-term technology pathway for facilitation of its VTM projects through an integrated mineral processing technology, TIVAN+, to be facilitated through ongoing collaboration with CSIRO. 

Tivan said the agreements are a major milestone in progressing the Board’s longer-term vision of delivering a TIVAN+ Processing Facility for downstream processing of mineral concentrate produced from Tivan’s 100 per cent-owned Speewah Vanadium-Titanium-Iron Project (Speewah) in north-east Western Australia.

According to Tivan, the partnership with CSIRO is a significant collaboration and represents:

  • The successful reshoring of a critical technology for Tivan in Australia, capturing many years of advance research and development in a sector of strategic national interest
  • A new alliance between industry and the scientific research sector, where a durable alignment of interests has been achieved
  • An opportunity to contribute to the reshaping of the global vanadium industry for national benefit, including through the creation of diverse, resilient and sustainable supply chains with international partners
  • An opportunity to capture downstream value-addition from resources in Australia, creating forward-facing employment and business opportunities, including in regional and Traditional Owner communities
  • An opportunity to design and deploy a sovereign capability within Australia that furthers the development of a large-scale renewable energy value chain based on principles of sustainable circularity.

CSIRO’s Chief Executive, Dr Doug Hilton, said the partnership is important, and will see the development and commercialisation of cutting-edge, CSIRO-patented technology increasingly used in the production of renewable energy storage systems.

“The technology is a vital piece in the puzzle in Australia’s renewable energy future and it will deliver long-term community benefit, boosting the economy and supporting more jobs and opportunities for Australians,” Dr Hilton said. 

“This is important, innovative, inventive work, creating new sovereign capability that harnesses the critical technologies Australia needs to transition to net zero.”

Tivan Executive Chairman, Grant Wilson, said the partnership is an opportunity to meaningfully advance the energy transition through sovereign capabilities. 

 “Our partnership with CSIRO exemplifies how research and industry can work together in mission-driven science that addresses Australia’s greatest challenges,” Mr Wilson said. 

“We are delighted to have achieved this outcome, reflecting as it does, the reshoring of a critical technology, and the opportunity to meaningfully advance the energy transition through sovereign capabilities.

“I am confident that our partnership will endure, and will come to exemplify how research and industry can work together in mission-driven science that addresses Australia’s greatest challenges.”

Currently 65 per cent of global economic vanadium resources reside in China and Russia, which generate 85 per cent of the world’s vanadium production.  

The partnership presents an opportunity for Australia – which hosts 18 per cent of global vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) resources – to establish a domestic industry for vanadium production.

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