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Lithium mine expansion opens

Production of lithium concentrate from the world’s largest supplier, based in regional Western Australia, is set to top 1 million tonnes per year, with predictions it could inject $4 billion into the economy.

Lorry Mignacca, chief executive of Talison Lithium, made the prediction at the opening of the company’s chemical grade processing plant 2 (CPG2) at Greenbushes, while also forecasting expansions pending continued market demand.

The company, co-owned by US firm Albemarle Corp and China’s Tianqi Lithium, recently announced it was stalling construction of CGP3 as shareholders reviewed “the need for additional volumes”.

However, Mr Mignacca said CGP3 would nonetheless be online “in the next three to four years subject to the market demand of our customers”.

“The new plant [CPG2] will produce chemical-grade lithium concentrate, and that’s going to double our capacity to roughly 1.3 million tonnes per year,” he said.

“This scale … will ensure that Greenbushes retains its position as the largest supplier and lowest-cost lithium source in the world, and demonstrates the significance of what is going on here at Greenbushes in terms of the overall global lithium production.”

Mr Mignacca was not available for direct questioning to qualify what demand levels would be needed for construction on CPG3 to begin.

Information supplied by Talison, meanwhile, states the mooted CGP3 and CGP4 projects would take production capacity to around 2.4 million tonnes per year.

Renewables expert Ray Wills said continued strong growth of demand for electric vehicles accounted for the bulk of lithium consumption globally. Read more…

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