Bushveld Minerals pegs hopes on energy to drive vanadium demand

As local vanadium producer Bushveld Mineral rides the wave of increased vanadium demand from China, the London-listed junior is also pegging its hopes on massive upside for the metal in the energy sector.

With a high strength-to-weight ratio, vanadium is a favoured input in steel, particularly in China, which has seen recent revisions to its high-strength rebar standard. While China accounted for 42% of overall vanadium demand in 2017, the tighter construction legislation is expected to lift vanadium demand in the country by 30% over the next ten years.

Considering the price of vanadium price grew 72% in 2016, with another 55% price climb in 2018 to date, Bushveld may well have something to crow about.

But vanadium’s – and Bushveld’s – prospects lie not only in Shanghai’s skyscrapers. Bushveld Minerals CEO, Fortune Mojapelo, said in a webinar on Thursday that the group is also pegging its ambitions on Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB) technology.

Touted as the most developed flow battery currently used in mass commercial operations, VRFB uses a liquid vanadium electrolyte to store energy in separated storage tanks. This differs from conventional batteries, which store energy in the power cell of the battery. VRFB is expected to account for 20% of overall global vanadium consumption by 2030.

According to Bushveld, several features of VRFB makes the technology ideal for utility-scale, long-duration stationary energy storage applications, particularly across Africa: it has long lifespan cycles, offers the lowest cost per kWh when fully used at least once a day and offers 100% depth of discharge.

Vanadium input costs contribute between 30% and 40% of the cost of the VRFB systems which is convenient if, like Bushveld Minerals, you own a vanadium-producing operation.

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