Case Study

Intermittent dynamic electrowinning of electrolytic manganese metal


Advisian is helping Element 25 explore a novel approach to deliver the energy-intensive electrowinning process through the use of intermittent, dynamic renewable energy.

Client Challenge

Element 25 Ltd (ASX:E25) (E25) owns and operates the Butcherbird High Purity Manganese Project, developing Australia’s largest-known onshore manganese resource located in Western Australia. The main products to be produced include high-purity Manganese Sulphate (MnSO4) which can be used as an NMC (Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt) cathode in Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries, and Electrolytic Manganese Metal (EMM) for stainless steel and other speciality steel markets.

Producing EMM requires an energy-intensive process called electrowinning, which recovers metal, like manganese, from a solution by passing a current through it. The process traditionally relies on stable current, with energy sourced from cheap baseload options such as coal or hydro. Based on E25’s scoping study, using gas as a potential power source, projected power costs would contribute approximately 40% of total project costs, with 90% being used solely for EMM production. Due to the remote location and lack of access to cheap energy sources, E25 engaged Advisian to provide lower-cost power options to improve the economics of the Butcherbird High Purity Manganese Project.

Our Solution

Advisian and E25 have identified a potential solution to reduce power costs through the use of renewable energy. E25, along with Advisian, are currently investigating the use of Intermittent Dynamic Electrowinning (IDE) generated through wind and solar, and what impact that will have on the electrowinning process. If viable this will allow E25 to access a clean and cheap energy source, that will also improve the cost competitiveness of the EMM produced.

To progress investigations into the viability of IDE, Advisian assisted E25 to successfully obtain AUD490,000 in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). The funds will support pilot activities to understand the dynamics of intermittent energy from renewable energy on manganese production and quality.

Value Delivered

The successful application for ARENA funding provides E25 with the opportunity to investigate whether IDE can be a viable enhancement to traditional power generation for the energy-intensive electrowinning process. If pilot activities prove successful, E25 will be delivered with decreased energy costs, improving the overall project economics of the Butcherbird High Purity Manganese Project. The success of IDE will allow Australia to expand its ability to export renewable energy embedded in processed raw materials, by harnessing wind and solar resources. The pilot activities also contribute to ARENA’s goal of Australian renewable energy to supply energy-intensive, large-scale export value chains.