Australian cleantech Mineral Carbonation International (MCi) has secured its first major cornerstone investor, Japanese giant ITOCHU Corporation (ITOCHU). Following MCi’s recent Commonwealth CCUS grant win of $14.6m in June, the investment will significantly advance MCi’s company growth with plans to be a global leader in removing CO2 emissions from hard to abate industry sectors like steel, cement, mining and manufacturing.
MCi plans to build its ‘carbon plants’ close to its industrial customers which capture their carbon dioxide emissions and convert them into solid materials known as ‘carbonates’. These carbonates are sold and used to manufacture a range of new low carbon construction and building materials, chemicals, cements, concretes and even household consumer products. This new technology of turning CO2 into value is known as Carbon Capture and Utilisation, or CCU.
MCi and ITOCHU have further advanced their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed early this year, giving ITOCHU rights to promote and develop market applications for MCi’s technology in Japan.
MCi CEO Marcus Dawe said: “Itochu’s cornerstone investment is important for MCi as it is our first significant external capital raise. We only invited a select group of strategic investors into the raise with ITOCHU taking the role of lead investor and conducting a thorough due diligence process. The round is set to close shortly with other investors in consideration.
“Carbon Capture and Utilisation is emerging as a significant technology field that could not only help us remove carbon emissions, but also plays into a new circular economy that addresses both climate change and sustainability goals, and enables us to create value by treating carbon dioxide as a resource and not a waste,” Mr Dawe said.
The investment comes after the June announcement of a Japan-Australia partnership on decarbonisation through technology, which committed Governments of Australia of Japan and Australia “to jointly support initiatives that will help drive the transitions to net zero emissions” which included a focus on “carbon capture utilisation and storage, carbon recycling and low emissions steel and iron ore.”.
MCi’s technology, which emerged in 2020 after more than seven years of R&D funded by Australian Governments and industry, is the first that does not need a price on carbon to be profitable. The value of its products far outweighs the full cost of the process. This is a breakthrough in carbon economics.
“ITOCHU has a corporate philosophy called ‘Sampo-yoshi’ which focuses on bringing ‘good for the seller, good for the buyer and good for society’. ITOCHU’s spirit of contributing to a sustainable society for all makes it an ideal partner for MCi, which aims to enable new advanced manufacturing that creates jobs and value while locking away carbon dioxide.
“In the near future there will be vast volumes of captured carbon dioxide that need to be used or stored. There are many technologies that are being developed and scaled to meet this US$6 trillion global emerging carbon product market and all will need to be assessed if we are to meet Paris Agreement targets,” Mr Dawe said.
ITOCHU, which was founded in 1858, has bases in 62 countries and operates in export/import, machinery, metals, minerals, energy, chemicals, food, IT and finance markets.