VanadiumCorp eyes green energy storage sector

VanadiumCorp’s Lac Dore Project near Chibougamau, Quebec. Source: VanadiumCorp Resource Inc.

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VanadiumCorp. Resource Inc. [VRB-TSXV] a company that is working to eliminate both the cost and carbon footprint associated with the production of vanadium, recently took a couple of small steps towards achieving its strategic goals.

On June 26, 2019, the company said it has received the final payment from Australian company Ultra Power Systems Pty Ltd., which has signed a technology licensing agreement allowing it to use VanadiumCorp.’s vanadium production technology.

On June 24, 2019, the company said it had arranged to raise $1 million via a non-brokered private placement of 11.1 million flow-through common shares at $0.09 cents per share.

The company said placement proceeds will be used to advance its Lac Dore Vanadium project in Chibougamau, Quebec.

Lac Dore is adjacent to the Blackrock Metals project, which is benefitting from $185 million in financial assistance from the Quebec government. The financing is in support of construction of an open pit iron, vanadium and titanium mine.

On Friday, VanadiumCorp shares were unchanged at $0.065 and trade in a 52-week range of $0.06 and 14 cents, leaving the company with a market cap of $15.8 million, based on 244 million shares outstanding.

Vanadium is a ductile and malleable transition metal that is widely used to strengthen steel and titanium.  More than 85% of the world’s vanadium is used in steel manufacturing applications.  About half of that amount is used to produce steel reinforcement bars (rebar).

In the last two years, prices have been driven higher by a change in steel reinforcement standards in China, which is driving up demand for vanadium.

The average price of V2O5 (vanadium oxide) was approximately US$18.30 a pound in 2018, up from the 2017 average of US$6.52. However, prices have since slipped to around US$16.28 in January, 2019, from US$24.53 in the fourth quarter of 2018.

However, after a decade spent developing its Quebec properties, VanadiumCorp chose to focus on new processing methods to address some of the key challenges facing in the industry. It also wanted to explore opportunities to use vanadium for energy storage.

“The ugly secret in the vanadium industry is that vanadium is produced with a similar carbon footprint to steel, producing two tonnes of carbon for one tonne of product, and it’s incredibly expensive and inefficient [to process],” said VanadiumCorp. President and CEO Adriaan Bakker.

Three years ago, VanadiumCorp formed a partnership with privately-owned Quebec company Electrochem Technologies & Materials Inc. that resulted in the development of a chemical process, also called VanadiumCorp. Electrochem Processing Technology (VEPT).

The company has said VEPT is a breakthrough process that can replace smelting and roasting processes that have traditionally been used to recover Vanadium. It said VEPT eliminates the cost of producing vanadium because it can recover the additional metals such as titanium and iron from magnetites, steel slags, calcine and other waste feedstocks.

VanadiumCorp said VEPT is capable of producing vanadium electrolyte directly and sustainably from virtually any source for perpetual use in vanadium batteries. By making the production of vanadium less costly and more efficient, the hope is that vanadium batteries will become a more popular source of backup power, replacing traditional backup power sources such as coal generation and natural gas.

“The main focus for us is the commercial demonstration of the technology as an answer not only for our own resources but also as an answer for resources and facilities all around the world,” Bakker said.

The company is looking to license the technology in targeted jurisdictions with vanadium battery companies, pigment producersand other players in the high tech sector.

Ultra Power Systems, for example, has said it plans to utilize the Australian VEPT license to expedite construction of the world’s first dedicated vanadium processing facility.

The core objective, Ultra said, is to directly integrate low cost battery grade vanadium electrolyte into vanadium redox batteries.

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