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Record Greenbushes production to meet lithium demand

The Greenbushes lithium operation in Western Australia has produced record amounts  of spodumene concentrate in the September quarter.

The deposit is recognised as containing the highest grade, is one of the largest hard rock deposits of spodumene in the world, and its output accounts for about 22 per cent of the global lithium market.

The boom has resulted in an uplift of 190 new jobs in the past year, and brought the local operations workforce to more than 900.

The production of 361,227 tonnes of spodumene was an increase of seven per cent from the June 2022 quarter. The  concentrate – from which lithium is derived – is used globally to manufacture various products, including lithium-ion batteries used to power green energy technologies such as electric vehicles (EVs).

WA is the largest lithium supplier in the world, accounting for 52 per cent of global supply in 2021, and accounted for 100 per cent of Australia’s lithium production in 2021.  Greenbushes alone contributed 50 per cent of the 267,000t of lithium carbonate equivalents mined in Australia in 2021.

Premier Mark McGowan said construction was underway, and further plans are in place – which are subject to State approvals – to expand the existing mine, increasing its production capacity by approximately a further 50 per cent, and maintain a production life of more than 20 years, a move estimated to support an additional 680 permanent jobs over the next five years in addition to the 450-550 construction jobs which will be created.

WA has begun producing lithium hydroxide and is expected to start exporting it later in 2022, with the newly-built Kwinana and Kemerton processing plants each having capacity to produce around 25,000t and 50,000t respectively of lithium hydroxide a year, supplied by lithium concentrate from the Greenbushes mine,” he said.

“Additional trains are also being built at these plants which will double their production capacities, and the expansion of the Greenbushes mine will provide the feedstock needed to grow these two separate facilities.”

The Greenbushes mine supplies lithium feedstock to Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia’s lithium hydroxide facility in Kwinana – which supports 250 operational jobs, and a further 650 construction and operational jobs to be created for train 2.

The Albemarle Corporation-operated lithium hydroxide plant in Kemerton near Bunbury also receives lithium feedstock, currently supporting 470 operational jobs, with an additional 1300 construction and operational jobs to be created with the expansion to trains 3 and 4.

Talison Lithium is a joint venture (JV) arrangement owned by Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia and the Albemarle Corporation.

“Demand for green energy technologies like EVs is driving exploration and investment in WA – which has been a key focus for my Government and is why I advocated for Albemarle to establish operations in WA,” McGowan said.

 

Editor of industrial titles and mastheads with Prime Creative Media. Publications include Rail Express and Australian Mining (web content).
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