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Future mining plans in north-west Queensland could be undermined by a lack of highly skilled workers, industry experts have warned.

As part of a $26 million project, the first commercial-scale vanadium flow battery electrolyte manufacturing facility will be built in Townsville, Queensland.

The Townsville Vanadium Battery Manufacturing Facility will produce the electrolyte used in grid-scale vanadium flow batteries – a type of battery leading the energy storage revolution.

The facility will also support the development of Vecco’s Debella critical minerals mine.

“This is history-making,” Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said. “Townsville will be the first place in the country to manufacture large scale vanadium batteries.

“Vanadium flow batteries provide the grid-scale storage needed so renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, can reliably power Queensland homes, businesses and industries.

“The ability to store and discharge energy on an industrial scale is one of the final pieces in the puzzle for decarbonising the electricity network.”

Vecco Group managing director Thomas Northcott said the facility would bring more jobs into the Queensland resources sector.

“We’ll be able to integrate mining and manufacturing and apply our expertise in critical minerals into the downstream supply chain to assist Queensland to achieve its renewable energy target,” he said.

“Australia’s demand for medium and deep duration storage by 2050 has been estimated at over 180 gigawatt hours (GWh) by the market operator, vanadium flow batteries made right here in Townsville from Queensland’s minerals can help meet this need while creating good jobs in regional areas.

“We look forward to taking advantage of all the opportunities opening up for renewable energy manufacturing now that the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan is being delivered.”

Queensland Resources Minister and member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the facility will add to the enormous potential vanadium mining has in the state.

“The North West Minerals Province has an abundance of critical minerals like vanadium, which is needed to produce large-scale batteries which are a key part of Queensland’s Energy and Jobs Plan,” he said.

“There are huge opportunities to continue creating good jobs in both our resources industry and renewable energy sector through developing critical minerals projects.”

The facility is expected to begin production later this year.