The CSIRO Process Science and Technology Group has agreed to undertake research and development studies into the production of high purity Electrolytic Manganese Dioxide (EMD) from manganese ores sourced from the company’s wholly-owned Butcherbird Project in Western Australia.
Butcherbird is Australia’s largest onshore manganese resource comprising large tonnages of near surface manganese oxide ore in seven deposits.
The project is located near infrastructure with a gas pipeline and main bitumen highway passing directly adjacent to and through the mineralised envelope.
The investigations will also focus on improving the primary beneficiation grades achieved from the Butcherbird ores as a feedstock into the EMD process flow sheet(s) and as a potential marketable product for sale to the manganese alloy markets.
Previous work achieved consistent grades of ~33% manganese, and this work will seek to further increase that.
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science have agreed to co-fund the work up to $50,000 as part of the Innovations Connections Programme.
Importance of EMD
Industry observers expect the global electrolytic manganese dioxide market to reach USD 635.7 million by 2022 with a projected compound annual growth rate of 4.9% from 2015 to 2022.
Growth in demand from the battery manufacturing industry is expected to drive projected demand curves as technological advancements in wind and solar power generation and the need for associated grid electrical storage systems expands.
Battery production is the leading EMD consumer with market share estimated to exceed 90% of global consumption.
This demand is expected to continue to grow in particular due to the current and expected future growth in the global electric vehicle industry, which in turn has a strong impact on battery demand.
Manganese in the form of EMD is a key ingredient in several types of widely used battery technologies including Li-ion, alkaline and zinc-carbon, and the next generation lithiated manganese dioxide batteries, with cathodes comprising over 60% manganese compared to circa 4% lithium.