Tantalum-focused Global Advanced Metals (GAM) has claimed that the approval of Talison Lithium’s $512 million expansion plans in the Greenbushes mining area are subject to the terms of a mining agreement between the two companies.
GAM and Talison are currently embroiled in a dispute over mining rights in the region. GAM holds non-lithium mineral rights at Greenbushes and currently receives tantalum extracted from Talison’s lithium-bearing spodumene mining.
The Western Australian Supreme Court has set a trial date of October 16-31 for an injunction action by GAM that argues that Talison’s expansion plans intrude on GAM’s mineral rights in the area.
“Contractually the expansion of Talison’s lithium production cannot be at the expense of GAM’s rights to its tantalum and all other minerals at Greenbushes,” said GAM chief executive officer Andrew O’Donovan.
If it goes ahead, Talison’s expansion is expected to add 520,000 tonnes per year (t/y) of annual lithium concentrate production to the site through the construction of a new concentrate plant, crushing plant and related infrastructure at an estimated cost of $516 million.
When combined with planned adjustments at existing plants, the expansion is expected to increase lithium concentrate capacity by 608,000t/y to 1.95Mt/y, equivalent to 260,000t/y of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE).
Commissioning of the concentrate plant is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2020 with the possibility of a second plant being commissioned in 2022.
“Greenbushes is a truly world-class mining operation with the capacity for significant expansion to underpin the lithium supply needs of our shareholders,” said Talison chief executive officer Lorry Mignacca.