Talison Lithium has received approval from the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to expand the Greenbushes lithium mine.
The EPA has recommended the approval for the $512 million project expansion, subject to Talison’s protection of endangered black cockatoos.
Talison has been encouraged by the EPA to offset the significant impact of lost habitat for the Western ringtail possum and numbat, alongside the protection for Carnaby and Baudin’s black cockatoos.
The EPA’s recommendation follows a four-week public review process, with the state environmental minister being responsible for making the final decision.
It adds to Talison’s ongoing expansion plans for what is already the world’s largest lithium mine, a site that has been operating for more than 30 years.
When accounting for adjustments at existing plants, the expansion will increase Greenbushes’ production to the equivalent of 2.8 million tonnes of lithium mineral concentrate a year.
The joint venture between Tianqi Lithium and Albemarle plans to commission an upgraded Greenbushes concentrate plant in the fourth quarter of 2020, with the possibility of a second plant being commissioned in 2022.
Talison’s proposed expansion is not expected to result in an unacceptable or sustainable impact on the fauna, according to EPA chair Tom Hatton.
“Clearing of 350 hectares of native vegetation on mining tenements – in state forest used for mining since 1888, timber and some agriculture – is unavoidable for the proposal to proceed,” Hatton said.
“[Talison Lithium] reduced the size of the development envelope and, in preference to further clearing within state forest, located proposed infrastructure in areas already disturbed.”
Earlier this week, Mondium was awarded a $100 million contract award for the design and construction of a tailing retreatment processing plant at the site.