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$50M battery research hub one step closer

An ambitious plan to create a world-leading ‘Lithium Valley’ enterprise cluster in Western Australia is a little closer with today’s announcement that the proposed Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre has been shortlisted to the next round of the nationally-funded CRC program.
$50M battery research hub one step closer $50M battery research hub one step closer $50M battery research hub one step closer $50M battery research hub one step closer $50M battery research hub one step closer

Staff reporter

The FBI CRC is one of six applicants that have been shortlisted to deliver new research under the Commonwealth's A$731 million program.
The proposed CRC would support Australian research into the battery minerals industry as the sector grows to meet surging demand for batteries to support renewable energy and power electric vehicles.
The shortlisted applicants also include the Future Cities CRC, Blue Economy CRC and Advanced Medical Biotechnologies CRC, Future Food Systems CRC and SmartSat CRC.
The applicants will now proceed to the next stage of assessment, which includes developing a comprehensive business case and attending an interview with the CRC Advisory Committee.
WA mines and petroleum minister Bill Johnston said the second stage FBI CRC application would be submitted before the end of November.
"The Commonwealth government has recently acknowledged the growing importance of the battery and energy materials sector to the Australian economy. This CRC bid has never been more relevant," he said.
"Our state is the ideal place to host the CRC; we have the resources, highly skilled workers and technical expertise, and we're also the largest producer of lithium in the world."
FBI CRC chairperson-elect Tim Shanahan and other members of the bid team will be invited to present in person to the committee in Canberra in February.   
Earlier, Shanahan said to have a battery mineral mining boom without a cohesive research and development effort would be a missed opportunity to encourage more investment, with the immediate focus expected to be on lithium, which is expected to remain a key battery component well beyond 2030, according to a recent report from the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies.
A decision on the winning bid is expected by March next year. 
If successful, Perth will host the FBI CRC headquarters and the state government will invest $6 million through the Minerals Institute of Western Australia, and the WA Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.
The funding would be disbursed by mid-2019, with the FBI CRC expected to be in operation for five years at an expected cost of $50 million, with WA businesses expected to commit $25 million. The Commonwealth will then match the funds. 
The CRC is backed by three of WA's five universities (Murdoch, Curtin and UWA) and companies ranging from BHP, Pilbara Minerals and Tianqi Lithium down to unlisted junior Multicom Resources.
It is estimated the global lithium value chain will grow from $160 billion in 2018 to $2 trillion in 2025.
Other metals such as nickel, cobalt, vanadium, rare earth elements, graphite and magnesium are expected to be lifted by the battery boom, and as economies around the world decarbonise, demand for energy products using these "new energy materials" is forecast to increase 10-fold by 2030.
News of the progress of the FBI CRC came at the same time that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a comprehensive report into the dire, existential risks of climate change, which showed humanity was running out of time to even limit global warming to a mere 1.5C - the level set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The report said to reach even that goal would require urgent and "unprecedented and collective climate action in all areas" to cut emissions by half by 2030, and reach net zero emissions by 2050.
That would require ending coal use by 2050, dramatically reducing the use of oil and gas, and accelerating the use of renewable energy such as wind and solar, backed with battery storage.
Globally, governments have been given a failing grade for a lack of real effort to keep temperature rises below even 2C. 
Australia is a major contributor to global warming as the world's largest exporter of coal and gas, while the FBI CRC aims to feed into a transition for the new energy future. 
WA is already the world's largest hard rock lithium supplier, and the nation wants to develop a full-cycle battery supply chain, however the Morrison government has dug in behind the continued use of highly polluting coal-fired power.
Speaking on the ABC's AM program this morning newly appointed Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price - not a scientist - suggested the thousands of scientists who fed into the peer-reviewed IPCC report had gotten the science wrong.