Increased demand for electric vehicles and energy storage systems has created a unique opportunity for Western Australia to become a central player in the global battery value chain.
In April, the WA Government, through the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA), was accepted into one of the International Energy Agency's Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technology Collaboration programmes.
The programme which is called Critical Raw Materials for Electric Vehicles (CRM4EV) aims to provide information on raw materials which are considered critical for the ramp up of electric vehicle sales and to identify supply chain issues. Critical raw materials include lithium, cobalt, graphite and rare earth elements.
The CRM4EV participants including Germany, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, UK and the US and more will convene twice a year with additional meetings set up based on specific interests.
The membership of the CRM4EV aims to position Western Australia as a leader in battery minerals supply, and ultimately as a centre of excellence in battery innovation and battery manufacturing. Raw materials availability is one of the key challenges facing the battery manufacturing supply chain as the growing demand for electric vehicles and lithium batteries puts pressure on the raw materials market.
As a result, there are opportunities for large battery manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers to secure their raw materials supply through setting up downstream and upstream operations in Western Australia (including setting up manufacturing units, often referred to as Giga factories), and through strategic alliances with current international players in the State.
The Government of WA's European office will work in collaboration with MRIWA to provide valuable input to CRM4EV by identifying key factors which need to be modelled at the supply end of the spectrum, and gain access to the issues confronting the battery manufacturers and end-users of batteries, specifically as it relates to electric vehicles.
The office will also highlight the recycling of raw materials as a secondary resource. Large volumes of lithium-ion batteries will be brought into the market in the next five years, and WA provides a viable and effective opportunity for setting up processing centres for the recycling of EV batteries.
"Collaborating with other countries and their policy makers is important as it shows how Western Australia can assist any potential supply chain issues for raw materials needed to make electric vehicles,” said WA Government’s Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston.
Earlier this year WA Premier Mark McGowan and Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston launched the WA Future Battery Industry Strategy to grow the State into a world-leading exporter of future battery minerals, materials, technologies and expertise. Not long after that the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre choose Western Australia as its future home.
"The unprecedented growth of the future battery industry represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Western Australia,” said Premier Mark McGowan.
The Government of WA’s trade office in London has been liaising with the European Battery Alliance to put WA on the radar for the ethically sourcing of critical battery materials outside of the EU.
The ethical component of sourcing is crucial, and latest showcased by German automaker BMW which in April decided to source cobalt directly from Australia and Morocco instead of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This measure follows the London Metal Exchange supply chain review to address the issues of the DRC cobalt industry having links to child labour.
For more information about the CRM4EV click here.