WA battery research hub wins $25m funding boost from federal government

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Western Australia’s bid to become a global leader in the manufacture and supply of batteries – and tap in to what will be a multi-trillion-dollar market – has won federal backing, with $25 million in funding towards the establishment of a Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC) in the state.

Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, said on Wednesday that the Curtin University-led national collaboration of 58 industry, government and research partners had been successful in its bid to establish the $135 million CRC in Perth.

According to the FBICRC website, the centre will research areas including value chain development, sourcing of materials and the wider deployment of batteries in homes, infrastructures and society.

“The aim is to expand battery minerals and chemicals production, develop opportunities for specialist battery manufacture; support battery deployment; and optimise the circular economy for the use and re-use of battery systems,” it says.

The grant funding from the Morrison government, which is just days away from calling a federal election, joins cash and in kind commitments of $28 million and $82 million respectively, from industry, government and research partners.

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The state Labor government is providing $5.5 million, through the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia, and $500,000 from the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.

Curtin University deputy vice-chancellor Chris Moran said the federal funding announcement would ensure Australia capitalised on the significant opportunities presented by the global battery boom.

“The Future Battery Industries CRC will address the existing gaps in the nation’s capacity to respond to this growth industry by creating opportunities to process, manufacture and deploy batteries, delivering an estimated $2.5 billion benefit to the Australian economy over the next 15 years.”

Moran said the CRC would also offer evidence-based advice to inform government policy-making, as well as to shape industry rules and regulations on battery storage.

Western Australia’s mining minister Bill Johnston said his state was “the obvious choice” to host the FBICRC, due to its extensive mineral resource.

“We have all the minerals you need to make batteries and energy technologies, including nickel, lithium and cobalt,” he said.

“A CRC based in Perth will provide substantial economic benefits and help create new jobs in the growing battery metals and mining equipment, technology and services sectors.”

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