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Positive Signs for the South West

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The global demand for the production of electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries continues to rise.

In fact, it is estimated that by 2030 electric vehicles will account for half of all manufactured vehicles worldwide!

This is great news for Western Australia, with the Greenbushes mine situated 250 kms south of Perth being the world’s largest producer of lithium – accounting for 30 percent of the market.

The mines operator Talison Lithium and its joint venture owners Tianqui Lithium from China and Albemarle Corp from the US, will be increasing the mines production at a cost of around $2 billion to make the most of this opportunity.

Part of this will include a $836 million to build new plants and associated infrastructure at the current mine site.

This expansion will create additional jobs as well as security for the workers, with the mine expected to have a mine life of 20 years. The amount of additional jobs available in the mine itself will be around 300 during peak construction and roughly 250 new permanent jobs once the plant is fully operational. The towns surrounding the mine will also see an increase in employment and other business opportunities, as Talison requires that all workers who are rostered on for 12-hour shifts must live within 50 kilometres of the Greenbushes mine. This places most within the areas bounded by Donnybrook, Nannup, Boyup Brook, Bridgetown and Manjimup. Although Talison would prefer that more employees live in Greenbushes, there is currently an insufficient number of houses to accommodate the influx of people.

Tim Clynch, the shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes Chief Executive, wants to see Talison investments maximised to foster development of regional infrastructure to enable new light industry and service businesses to feed off the expansion.

If the mine expansion comes to fruition, Greenbushes will produce up to 2.3 million tonnes of lithium concentrate a year from 646,000t last year.

This lithium concentrate will feed the processing plants in Kwinana and Kemberton where lithium hydroxide, a battery grade chemical which sells for more than three times the price of concentrate, will be produced. This will require an increase in trucks from 30 to 100, hauling condensate each day out of Greenbushes.

Work will begin in the first quarter of 2019 with commissioning of the new lithium concentrate plant to start in the fourth quarter of 2020.

If your business is looking at seizing this opportunity in the Southwest, get in touch with Ledge Finance and kick start the finance process (equipment finance/working capital needs) that always has lead times – it’s never too early.

Source: The West Australian

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