A proposed $A3 billion lithium-ion battery “gigafactory” has taken an important step forward after the Queensland government approved the findings of a feasibility study, leading to the project’s consortium to move to the next step of locking in equity partners.
New South Wales-based graphite company Magnis Energy Technologies announced on Monday that the Queensland Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation had approved the feasibility study for the $A3 billion Imperium3 Townsville (iM3TSV) lithium-ion battery Gigafactory.
In turn, the iM3TSV board – made up of partners from the Imperium3 consortium including Magnis, Charge CCCV (C4V), and Boston Energy and Innovation – formally approved the investment decision to proceed with the next stage of the project development of what is planned to be a 18GWh lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facility in Townsville.
According to an announcement from Magnis Energy Technologies back in October 2019, the feasibility study demonstrated that the planned Townsville Gigafactory showed “sound financial viability on a project basis” and would facilitate around 1,150 direct jobs when operating at full capacity.
The feasibility study also demonstrated that development would be best over three separate stages of 6.6GWhs each, reducing upfront capital expenditure to around $A1.12 billion and allowing for project expansion to occur in line with technology developments and market needs.
This week’s announcement revealed that discussions between the Queensland Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation, the Imperium3 consortium, and the National Australia Bank – which in September of last year stepped on to the project as Financial Advisor – have proceeded to acknowledge that the feasibility study is now sufficiently mature to progress initial discussions with potential equity partners.
As such, the Imperium3 consortium has begun finalising presentations and associated documentation to seek investment partners for subsequent stages of project development. Discussions are also continuing with Federal, State, and local government
agencies as well as private and public enterprises.
Looking forward, the Imperium3 consortium behind the iM3TSV project are hoping to complete capital raising and make a final investment decision on construction by 30 June 2021, leading to a potential start of construction by 1 January 2022 and commercial operation to begin by 1 January 2024.
“Energy security is a major topic along with the creation of local manufacturing and employment in this current climate,” said Magnis Chairman Frank Poullas.
“This project ticks all the boxes and we look forward to progressing the Townsville project with our partners towards large scale production.”
The iM3TSV will serve as a significant leap forward in battery production in Australia, but also has the potential to serve as a significant milestone for global battery technology development.
Only last month, Magnis Energy said in a statement that its partner C4V had successfully tested a lithium-ion cell with a six-minute charge time, a “potential game-changer” for EV makers. Such a result, if brought through to commercial reality, could see EVs recharged to 85% in only six minutes, further reducing barriers to entry for electric vehicles around the world.
Magnis added in its own press release that such a battery with the so-called “Extra Fast Charge” capabilities could be manufactured soon in Australia – presumably referring to the planned iM3TSV Gigafactory.