A carbon capture start-up, operating out of the University of Newcastle, is looking to explore for materials near Gloucester to use in their demonstration plant.
Mineral Carbonation international (MCi Carbon) - a joint venture between Orica, the University of Newcastle and Canberra-based GreenMag Group - established their pilot plant at the university's Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) site in 2013.
Last year, the company received a $14.6 million Federal Government grant to build a mobile demonstration plant at Kooragang.
They are now looking for materials to use as feedstock for the demonstration plant, with an exploration license application (ELA) lodged on August 25.
The ELA covers about six square kilometres of private land at Mt George, north-east of Gloucester.
"MCi Carbon intends to explore the serpentinite rock body located at Mt George," an MCi Carbon spokesperson said.
MCi's technology accelerates a natural process called mineral carbonation. By taking carbon dioxide from sources like industrial emissions and reacting it will a feedstock, the company creates a carbonated product for building materials.
The spokesperson said serpentine rock is "an extremely suitable mineral carbonation feedstock and long-term carbon sink".
"Serpentinite as an input is a key research focus for MCi Carbon, in addition to industrial wastes such as steel slag, ashes and mine tailing," they said. "Once carbonated, the serpentinite from Mt George will be transformed into materials for the use in construction, advanced manufacturing, and the circular economy.
"This process is a safe and permanent method of carbon dioxide removal."
Exploration at Mt George will initially be limited to a single property if the application is successful.
"MCi Carbon expects minimal impact on landowners," the spokesperson said. "Initially, this will be the drilling of small holes with a hand auger to collect samples for testing the suitability of the rock materials for carbonation.
"If preliminary exploration proves successful, MCi Carbon plans to excavate a small pit (20m by 20m by 10m in depth) to supply materials for further research at the planned MCi Demonstration Plant on Kooragang Island."
The Kooragang plant is currently in the design phase and MCi say it will be built in 2023. The plant is slated to process 1000 to 3000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into carbonated materials per year.
"The Flagship Demonstration project on Kooragang Island will provide crucial engineering data and product testing for customers to scale the technology," they said. "MCi Carbon's technology aims to be locking away millions or even billions of tonnes of carbon emissions into low-carbon and negative-emissions materials."
Having taken top spot - out of more than 2500 - in the Clean Energy Start-up pitches at COP26, MCi has partnered with Japanese construction firm Taisei Corporation to explore carbonate uses in their products.
MCi had previously signed a memorandum of understanding with Japenese company Itochu, who purchased a "cornerstone" stake in the start-up.
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