ABx Group’s Announcement Unveils Australia’s Strategic Embrace of Fluorine for Aluminium and Renewable Tech
Australia’s strategic move to include fluorine in its Critical Minerals List marks a pivotal moment in the nation’s resource landscape, with far-reaching implications for the aluminium and renewable technology sectors. The ABx Group’s recent announcement signals potential increased government support for industries reliant on fluorine, positioning it as a key player in the quest for resource self-sufficiency.
Fluorine, a pivotal element in steelmaking, aluminium smelting, and the production of solar PV cells and batteries, now takes center stage on the national agenda. Despite Australia being the world’s fourth-largest aluminium exporter, the nation has traditionally depended on imported fluorine. Notably, aluminium smelters rely on imports of aluminium fluoride, mainly sourced from China, to sustain their operations.
ABx Group’s subsidiary, ALCORE, is at the forefront of fluorine recovery efforts. Employing an advanced reactor, ALCORE transforms an aluminium smelting by-product, known as excess bath, into hydrogen fluoride. This innovative initiative represents a substantial leap towards reducing dependence on foreign imports. In the future, at a commercial scale, a portion of this hydrogen fluoride is expected to be converted into aluminium fluoride through an established commercial process.
In conjunction with fluorine’s inclusion in the Critical Minerals List, the Australian Government acknowledges the importance of aluminium in its new Strategic Materials List. While these materials are crucial for global net-zero emission transitions and other strategic applications, they don’t meet the criteria for the Critical Minerals List due to their less vulnerable supply chains.
Mark Cooksey, ABx Group Managing Director and CEO, conveyed his enthusiasm about this development in a press release, stating, “I am exceptionally pleased that fluorine has been added to Australia’s Critical Minerals List, demonstrating the value of the ALCORE process development. It is exciting to see fluorine placed on the same footing as other critical minerals such as lithium and rare earth elements. As a consequence, I anticipate ALCORE will be able to access further support from government, in addition to the $7.5 million grant already received under the Federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI).”
This addition signifies a substantial stride in Australia’s mineral management strategy, reflecting its commitment to nurturing a more self-reliant and sustainable resources sector. This shift is particularly crucial for materials integral to both established industries and emerging technologies.