Plans for a Bill Moss-led consortium to build a $US1.6 billion lithium-ion battery factory in Australia have moved a step closer with the Townsville City Council to grant part of a former CSIRO research station to the group in exchange for equity in the massive project.
The consortium that includes Bill Moss’s Boston Energy and Innovation, Australian-listed miner Magnis Resources and US companies Eastman Kodak, Nasdaq-listed C4V and electronics manufacturer C & D Assembly are mid way through a six-month period of exclusivity with the Townsville Council.
The council today approved a planning report recommending that around 400ha of land at Woodstock on the Flinders Highway 40km from the Port of Townsville be granted for the 22ha factory which the consortium says would create up to 1,000 direct jobs for the depressed northern city.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said selecting a site showed the consortium that the city was “ready for business”.
“The Townville Lithium-ion battery gigafactory could be the biggest stimulus ever for the Townsville economy with the potential of 7,000 jobs created,” Cr Hill said.
Mr Moss, a former head of property for Macquarie Group, has had frequent dealings in northern Queensland, and in March struck a deal over vast 360,000ha of land at Cape York to establish tourism and agriculture businesses, with a proportion of the funds going to indigenous trusts for education, health and employment.
Some of the land leases were close to being finalised, his company said today.
The lithium-ion battery consortium is already converting an old IBM facility in upstate New York for its first factory and claims that with the additions of the Townsville plant it can become a serious player in the international market in the next three to five years as investment in new battery manufacturing takes off. It is also looking at a site in Oman.
If the Townsville site proceeds, the 15 gigawatt hour factory would be capable of producing 250,000 electric car batteries, or one million home battery units or to support 300 microgrids to power small towns.
Townsville, which was hit by the failure of Clive Palmer’s Queensland Nickel refinery, would exchange the land for equity in the project controlled under a entity that would provide an ongoing financial return to the city, the council said.
“Scoping studies have been completed, we have had a successful trial of battery production (in New York) and next will be a detailed feasibity study (for Townsville),” Mr Moss told The Australian earlier this month.
Townsville has been “doing it tough” Mr Moss noted, suffering from the mining downturn and high unemployment with the project an opportunity to provide a technology hub, he said.
The city was attractive being close to Asia, and with an international airport, rail and a sea port.
Once the land had been secured, the group would hold further talks with potential investors who were both high net worth indivials and corporates, he said.
By Turi Condon