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Construction set to start on Australia’s first lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant

Standing in a paddock at the back of an industrial area near Newcastle, Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared the site would soon be the first advanced manufacturing facility of lithium-ion batteries in Australia.

“In the Hunter, they’re building the future on this site, with lithium-ion batteries,” he said.

Energy Renaissance plans to start constructing the $70 million battery plant at Tomago within weeks and it should be operational by October.

Although plans unveiled last year suggested the plant would require a workforce of 1,200, a greater use of automation means the total jobs will be closer to 100.

An artist's impression of a factory with a large carpark, topped with solar panels.
Construction is set to start by April 2021 on Australia’s first lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility.(Supplied: Energy Renaissance)

Batteries set to power homes, industry and public transport

Energy Renaissance managing director Mark Chilcote said the batteries would be specially designed to operate in hot climates.

“We’re going to start manufacturing lithium-ion batteries in a temporary facility, also in Tomago, we’ll start that in July,” he said.

A man wearing a hi-vis vest stands in front of several microphones in a paddock.
Energy Renaissance managing director Mark Chilcote says the batteries will be designed for hot climates.(ABC Newcastle: Madeline Lewis)

“Their purpose will be static storage, so industrial/commercial, houses and heavy vehicles, so buses, trains, trams.

“Initially we import the materials into Australia, so we’re very focused on Australian raw materials.

“Australia is the only country in the world that has 100 per cent of mined raw materials here.

“Unfortunately at this point we don’t value-add them to battery-grade material.

“So we’re very interested in working with both industry and government in proving up that supply chain and being a catalyst for that supply chain.”

Resources roadmap launch

The Prime Minister used the visit to launch his government’s new 10-year roadmap outlining how businesses can capitalise on Australia’s access to resources and critical minerals.

Mr Morrison said he was excited to see the battery plant on track.

“It is a sovereign and strategic priority for Australia to ensure we are hardwired into this supply chain around the world and a supply chain that Australia and our partners can rely on.

A man in a hi-vis jacket leans over a desk with plans.
The Prime Minister checks out plans for the $70 million battery manufacturing plant at Tomago.(ABC Newcastle: Madeline Lewis)

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack made a visit to Denman in the Upper Hunter to announce funding for road safety upgrades.

$400 million will be spent on shoulder sealing, rumble strips and median upgrades.

Of that, $6.7 million will go towards roads around Ogilvies Hill, including the Golden Highway.

“We’ve made sure that the money is available now and projects have already started and that money has to be used within a six-month timeframe,” Mr McCormack said.

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