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Outlook for mining and processing of lithium in Australia

Outlook for mining and processing of lithium in Australia

By the end of this year, Western Australia will supply half of the world’s demand for lithium, after overtaking Chile in 2017.The state has world-class deposits of lithium hard rocks known as pegmatites due to the size of crystal grains in the rocks, with spodumene as the most important mineral. Over the last three years, the state has witnessed an inexorable slew of discoveries and resource upgrades.

The dominant position of Greenbushes, with its 120 million tonnes of 2.4 per cent lithium oxide (i.e. 2.88 million tonnes of lihtium oxide), is being challenged by Kidman Resources’ upgrade of its Earl Grey deposit at Mount Holland, about 670 kilometres east of Perth. Kidman announced back in March that Earl Grey now holds 189 million tonnes at 1.50 per cent lithium oxide (2.84 million tonnes of lithium oxide). This month, Mineral Resources has publicised an increase in the size of its Wodgina deposit in Pilbara, about 1550 kilometres north of Perth, now estimated to be 233.9 million tonnes at 1.21 per cent lithium oxide; that’s 2.83 million tonnes of lithium oxide. Both Kidman and Mineral Resources’ resources seem just a notch below that of Greenbushes, and they appear to dwarf the huge Pilgangoora deposit of Pilbara Minerals of 160 million tonnes at 1.25 per cent lithium oxide and 1.95 million tonnes of lithium oxide.

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