Alternate Uses of Victorian Lignite
Victoria is home to the world's single largest lignite (brown coal) resource, and it's under threat of being closed down because a vocal minority don't understand how it can be used to actually support the transition to a net-zero future.
There are many ways this valuable resource can be repurposed, and the below report outlines a range of applications that can benefit us all.
However, while many agree that alternative uses can help minimise or avoid CO2 emissions, they may also question the impact of mining.
So, let's quickly touch on the need for mining (and a lot more of it) in the context of the energy transition.
The energy transition entails a shift away from mining and extracting coal, oil, and natural gas to produce primary energy to run the machines in our world toward mining, extracting and processing minerals to make machines and devices - wind turbines, solar panels and batteries - that produce primary energy.
The trade-off is the mineral intensity necessary to make wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries are much higher than making coal and natural gas plants, as shown in the chart below.
To put it another way, if your support the energy transition, then you support an exponential and unprecedented increase in mining.
This leads to a genuine conundrum; in an effort to save the planet from global warming, are we in danger of destroying the environment?
To avoid destroying the environment, we need to ensure that best-practice mining methods are adopted globally. In addition, we need to enshrine the highest labour standards to ensure child and slave labour aren't part of the supply chain.
The Geological Survey of Finland has identified a range of energy transition minerals that are in very short supply, shown in the chart below.
This is where we (and Victoria's lignite resource) come in.
Graphite is used in batteries. To deliver the first generation of batteries needed for the energy transition, it is estimated that almost 9 billion tonnes of graphite is needed. Current world reserves are 320 million tonnes. We will find more, but that also entails opening many new mines.
Our technologies enable lignite to pivot away from its legacy, high-emission use toward low and zero-emission applications, including battery-active carbon.
As detailed in the below report, lignite is a rich source of chemistry that can be mined and processed to produce a range of products.
Our Viridian Hydrogen process, planned for deployment in Victoria's Latrobe Valley, will deliver:
- Clean hydrogen, without the need for carbon capture and storage
- Agricultural char for soil health
- Battery-active carbon for the energy storage market