01/02/2018 - 14:30

GAM plans tantalum mining

01/02/2018 - 14:30

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Global Advanced Metals has submitted a development plan to begin direct tantalum mining at Greenbushes in Western Australia’s South West, as it continues legal proceedings against the company that mines lithium at the same site.

GAM plans tantalum mining
Talison currently mines lithium at Greenbushes.

Global Advanced Metals has submitted a development plan to begin direct tantalum mining at Greenbushes in Western Australia’s South West, as it continues legal proceedings against the company that mines lithium at the same site.

The Perth-based company plans to redevelop Greenbushes, combining the planned tantalum mining operations with further processing of tantalum derived as a by-product of lithium mining.

GAM said it planned to start mining tantalum within 12 months at the site.

Talison Lithium, which is jointly owned by Chinese group Tianqi Lithium (51 per cent) and US company Albemarle Corporation (49 per cent), holds the lithium rights for the Greenbushes site, with GAM owning the rights to mine all other minerals at the site.

Talison is investing $320 million in a chemical-grade lithium plant and expanded crushing facility at Greenbushes.

The extra output will be used as feedstock at Tianqi's lithium hydroxide processing facility in Kwinana, currenly being built at a cost of $700 million.

Albemarle is evaluating development of a similar facility at the Kemerton industrial park near Bunbury.

GAM commenced legal action against Talison in the Supreme Court of Western Australia last year, with GAM seeking to halt Talison’s planned expansion of lithium production at Greenbushes pending consent from GAM.

GAM also wants Talison to change its expansion plans to minimise sterilisation and loss of tantalum resources at Greenbushes.  

Greenbushes was previously a significant source of the world’s tantalum supply, according to GAM.

Chief executive Andrew O’Donovan said Greenbushes would become an integral part of the state’s tantalum market.

“Greenbushes is central to our Australian tantalum development strategy as we restore Western Australia’s position as a major supply hub in the global tantalum market,” he said.

“As an integrated processor and supplier of tantalum products to the electronics, aerospace, medical and other industries, a long-term and reliable primary source of tantalum supply is key to providing stability assurance to our direct customers and further downstream end users.”

Mr O’Donovan said GAM would carefully manage concurrent lithium and tantalum operations.

“The separation of exploration rights for different minerals has become commonplace in Western Australia to facilitate mining development and we expect concurrent mining of separate interests at Greenbushes to become a showpiece of how this co-mining can be managed,” he said.

 

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