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Queensland invests in sapphire glass production

Money. Photo: Jim Wilson

The Queensland Government will invest in a Gladstone company that is turning locally produced alumina into glass for phones and smart watches.

The investment was made through the $100 million Queensland Critical Minerals and Battery Technology Fund, managed by the Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC).

It aims to accelerate the delivery of two purpose-built furnaces used to ‘grow’ sapphire glass at Alpha HPA in Gladstone.

The units will enable Alpha HPA to produce more than four tonnes of sapphire glass from High Purity Alumina (HPA) each year.

The extraordinary durability of sapphire glass makes it ideal for use in micro-LEDs and smartphone screens, making it a hot commodity for many producers worldwide.

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Local production of sapphire glass will allow Queensland to capture significant value in the advanced materials supply chain and unlock new export opportunities.

Queensland treasurer and Cameron Dick said Alpha HPA is already producing high purity alumina with the support of the government’s Industry Partner Program.

“This investment through QIC will enable Alpha HPA to increase the value of its finished product by 1000 per cent,” he said.

“That means more highly-skilled advanced manufacturing jobs here in Gladstone that would otherwise be lost overseas.

“Through this $100 million Fund and our $245 million Queensland Critical Minerals Strategy, we can turn Queensland’s mineral wealth into new jobs in new industries, especially in regional Queensland.”

Alpha HPA managing director Rimas Kairaitis said the company is delighted to have reached agreement with QIC on funding for Alpha Sapphire and for the broader support from QIC and the Queensland Government to support private sector investment to add value via downstream processing of Queensland’s materials.

QIC CEO Kylie Rampa said the organisation is proud to leverage its expertise to support the growth of the critical minerals sector within Queensland through private infrastructure development.

“The Queensland Critical Minerals and Battery Technology Fund’s first investment in Alpha HPA is a logical value-add complementing the existing alumina project,” Rampa said.

“A looming shortage of natural sapphire glass in the market and growing demand for more energy conscious manufacturing processes makes this an attractive opportunity to enter a fast-growing market with all the competitive advantages Queensland has to offer.”

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