18/08/2020 - 15:27

SW rail study gets go-ahead

18/08/2020 - 15:27

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

The state government has allocated $3.8 million for studies into reopening the rail line to the Greensbushes lithium mine and building unloading facilities at Kwinana and Bunbury.

SW rail study gets go-ahead
The proposed rail-based supply chain will include new loading facilities at Greenbushes.

The state government has allocated $3.8 million for studies into reopening the rail line to the Greensbushes lithium mine and building unloading facilities at Kwinana and Bunbury.

Its decision follows a pre-feasibility study by the South West Development Commission in partnership with Talison Lithium and railway investor Arc Infrastructure.

The shift to rail would overcome the congestion and amenity problem caused by trucks transporting lithium concentrate from Talison’s Greenbushes mine to processing plants at Kemerton and Kwinana.

SWDC chief executive officer Mellisa Teede said rail upgrades and new unloading facilities at Bunbury and Kwinana ports were critical components of a rail-based supply chain.

“A pre-feasibility study has been carried out and what that found was the projected tonnages of lithium concentrate to be transported from Greenbushes supported the case to consider rail as a transport option,” Ms Teede said.

“As a result, we now have the confidence to move into a full study that includes the port unloading solutions, knowing that there is sufficient merit to considering rail as an alternative to road transport.

Ms Teede said the next stage involved detailed design work, which was relatively costly.

“We wouldn’t have carried through to this stage without having completed the preliminary work that indicated rail was a feasible option to explore further.”

However, the SWDC did not release the estimated cost of building the new infrastructure when Business News sought further details.

"There are high-level costings but these costings need to be tested," Ms Teede said.

"The study will look into these costings to provide the detail for capital investment decisions to be made."

The proposed rail-based supply chain would include new loading facilities at Greenbushes, the reactivation of the rail line between Greenbushes and Picton, and new multi-user unloading facilities at Kwinana Bulk Terminal and the Port of Bunbury.

The lithium sector has been hit by a slump in prices over the past year but is widely anticipated to be a long-term growth industry.

Lithium is a key component in the batteries used for electric vehicles and energy storage.

Talison Lithium, which is jointly owned by Chinese company Tianqi Lithium and US company Albemarle Corporation, operates the world’s largest lithium mine at Greenbushes.

Planned expansions at Greenbushes have been put on hold because of the global oversupply.

Tianqi has built a lithium hydroxide plant at Kwinana and Albemarle is building a similar facility at Kemerton, near Bunbury.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options