Johnston bullish on batteries

14/11/2019 - 12:57

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There’s no bad news in Western Australia’s battery industry, Energy Minister Bill Johnston says, shrugging off the deferral of major projects in recent months.

Johnston bullish on batteries
Bill Johnston says there's a good long term future for WA lithium. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

There’s no bad news in Western Australia’s battery industry, Energy Minister Bill Johnston says, shrugging off the deferral of major projects in recent months.

In August, Mineral Resources and Albemarle Corporation announced they would put construction of a Pilbara lithium refinery on hold and scaled down a project at Kemerton.

The following month, Tianqi Lithium opened stage one of its own refinery, while pausing the second stage.

Two weeks ago, MinRes and Albemarle placed their Wodgina lithium concentrators on care and maintenance.

Business News revealed earlier this year that costs had lifted beyond initial forecasts at a number of lithium projects.

Speaking to Business News last week at an event with Magellan Power, Mr Johnston said there were no speed bumps for the industry.

“The volume of spodumene coming from WA has massively increased and it will increase even further into the future,” Mr Johnston said.

“Of course that doesn't mean that any particular project will go on any particular timeline.

“There’s only good news for the battery industry in Western Australia.

“There’s 5000 more people battery (jobs) in WA than there was just two years ago.

“This is unquestionably all good news.

“Some projects will be slower than the developers want to be but there's no bad news in the battery industry in WA, there's only good news.”

The pressure on projects has grown as a glut of lithium comes onto the market and downstream processing developments are stalled in Asia.

Mr Johnston took a long term view.

“Currently in the globe 2 per cent of cars use batteries, within 20 years 50 per cent of cars will use batteries,” he said.

“We know that the volume of lithium and other materials that will go into those batteries has to go up enormously.

“It's going to take a decade or 15 years before recycling has any impact.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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