$330m to power forward emissions reduction tech

Brandon How

Nine heavy industry projects will share in $330 million worth of federal government grants to fund the use of clean energy and emissions reduction technologies.

The grants, announced by Climate Change and Energy minister Chris Bowen on Wednesday, come from the $1.9 billion Powering the Regions Fund, which aims to reduce emissions in existing industries and develop new clean energy industries.

Funded projects include electrification, installing renewables and battery storage, and installing catalysts to remove nitrous oxide emissions.

The funding includes the first $134 million of the Safeguard Transformation stream. The remaining funding was awarded through the ‘Critical Inputs to Clean Energy Industries – Cement, Lime, Alumina and Aluminium Sectors’ stream.

QAL’s Alumnium refinery in Gladstone, Queensland. Image: QAL

The $1.9 billion Powering the Regions Fund was an Albanese government election commitment that was stood up by repurposing unspent money from former Coalition programs.

Of this, $600 million is earmarked for the Safeguard Transformation Stream to support trade exposed facilities covered by the safeguard mechanism, which sets limits on total net emissions from highly polluting facilities.

Queensland Alumina (QAL), mostly owned by mining giant Rio Tinto, was awarded the largest grant from this announcement at just under $94 million to reduce coal and gas consumption at its Gladstone facility.

The project entails retrofitting a low temperature digestion circuit into its Gladstone facility’s existing high temperature unit. Digestion entails the extraction of aluminum containing minerals in the ore refining process.

The next largest grant, worth just under $53 million, will fund Cement Australia’s alternative fuels transformation project at its facility in Railton, Tasmania. The upgrades to its kiln and work on alternative fuel facilities will “enable greater use of waste to reduce coal consumption, while also reducing waste going to landfill”.

Murrin Murrin Operations, a subsidiary of Australia’s largest nickel and cobalt producer, Glencore was awarded $35.7 million to install renewable energy and battery storage at its mine and refinery site in Leonora, Western Australia.

The smallest grant has been awarded to Liberty Bell Bay (LBB), a subsidiary of GFG Alliance which is chaired by British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta. It has received $766,612 for the stage of its ‘Biocarbon project’ which will trial the use of 500 tons of charcoal as an alternative to coal-derived coke in the smelting process.

Mr Bowen said that the grant announcement “in Australia’s hard-to-abate manufacturing and mining facilities is about securing the future of high-quality, low-emissions products made right here”.

“As global markets change rapidly – we’re supporting Australian industry to not only survive but thrive with our world-class products that support regional jobs across the country,” Mr Bowen said.

Investment in green metals is a priority industry under the federal government’s forthcoming Future Made in Australia Act. A clean manufacturing support package is also expected to be detailed in the upcoming federal Budget.

Remaining funds in the $600 million Safeguard Transformation Stream is still open to applications.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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