American Vanadium talks markets and possibilities

Published: Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Feasibility study completed, company looking to 2014

 Samples from American Vanadium's Gibellini Vanadium Project
American Vanadium had a full 2013, but the company is looking forward to the new year, with many milestones ahead.

The company completed its feasibility study in late 2013 for its Gibellini project, which placed it as potentially the lowest cost vanadium producer in the world.  It is now awaiting its advanced permitting permissions so that it can push on with its plan to start construction in September 2014.

American Vandium has gone from being a junior explorer to finishing its feasibility study and is now in a position where investors are looking with interest at what the company can produce, Scott Eldridge, director, project finance for the company told IM.

The company's Gibellini Vanadium Project, located in Nevada, is being designed to economically produce vanadium electrolyte for the energy storage industry, as well as vanadium products for the steel and alloying industries.

  “We need to get financing, but interest has been great,” Eldridge said. “I have worked across a range of commodities and the interest here is as strong as in any other project I have worked on,” he said.

American Vanadium is unique in that it already has a partnership with a battery manufacturer, Germany’s Gildemeister, which means it is primed to sell products in Europe. In the US, American Vanadium will act as a seller for the German company.

Gildemeister produces CellCube vanadium redox flow batteries.

  “We’re not just a mining company – we are vertically integrated and we are looking at energy storage,” Eldridge told IM.

The Gibellini project has an estimated output of 11m lb (4,989 tonnes) and should be coming online in the next three years.

The company believes the one mine could potentially supply up to 5% of world demand.

Gibellini is the only vanadium mine in the US,  which, the company says provides a critical source of vanadium electrolyte for Gildemeister’s energy storage systems.

“With the onsite production process designed to yield vanadium pentoxide, the project will create opportunities for off take agreements in the steel industry,” the company said.

“Furthermore, since the process already yields vanadiumin sulphuric acid in an intermediary step to producing vanadium pentoxide, it is expected that this can be pulled from the process and used directly as an electrolyte for grid scale energy storage.”

The product will be processed on site and will focus on North American distribution because it will most likely be the sole domestic source – but the company is open to looking other markets also, it toldIM.

“There’s a market in Asia for sure,” Eldridge toldIM.

Although American Vanadium said that it would look at steel markets, which make up the main crux of demand for vanadium, the company said it is mainly looking at the flow battery business.

The batteries will be aimed at the mass storage market in the 500KW to 5MW range.

American Vanadium has already seen interest both from larger scale grid storage customers and from smaller scale customers, which will use the batteries to store energy generated by renewable sources (chiefly wind and solar).

Batteries that store energy generated by renewable sources can also be used to take entire communities off the grid as the batteries mean that intermittent generation of energy by renewable sources does not mean an intermittent supply of electricity. Several smaller communities are investing in this approach and, in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi is developing the city of Masdar which will run entirely on renewable sources.

It is also looking to establish partnerships with the First Nation communities in Canada.

“One of the things we are pursuing is the remote locations of the First Nations,” Eldridge said.

In these remote Canadian areas costs can climb to $1/kWh, Eldridge explains. By using a vanadium energy storage unit, the company believes it can cut costs in half.

According to its feasibility study, American Vanadium could potentially become the lowest cost primary vanadium producer in the world with a unit operating cost of $4.10/lb.

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