on June 27, 2017
The Minister for the Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg has announced the Turnbull Government, is investing around $20 million into a new project through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). This mine will produce the valuable lithium concentrate, the essential component in batteries used for energy storage and power electric vehicles.
This Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum Project is an open pit lithium mine, slated for construction in early 2018, is located in Port Hedland, Western Australia.
The project as a whole is expected to cost around $234 million and the funding round is actually oversubscribed, demonstrating the demand of the resource on the international marketplace. The project recent raised US$100 million in equity from the ASX, so its the CEFC is probably lucky to have secured as much of a percentage (albeit small) as they have.
The most recent Mineral Resource update, published in July 2016 and incorporating the results of successful in-fill drilling completed from February to June 2016, comprises a Measured, Indicated and Inferred Resource of 128.6 million tonnes grading 1.22% Li2O (spodumene) and 138ppm Ta2O5 (tantalum) containing 1.57 million tonnes of lithium oxide and 39 million pounds of Ta2O5.
Pilbara Minerals Limited also invest in the development of the Pilgangoora project. Given Australia’s widely publicised energy storage for renewables, namely solar, investing in Lithium is a smart move, but $20m is a drop in the ocean, compared to other Government investments. This is the Government’s first investment in a mining project of its kind in WA while its being touted as a demonstration of the Government’s commitment to clean energy technologies, we won’t be competing with Tesla any time soon.
Australia is known internationally as a large exporter of its natural resources and as the world moves beyond coal, we should invest heavily to extract the new gold (lithium) that will power our electronics and lifestyles into the future. Pilgangoora contains one of the world’s largest spodumene (lithium pyroxene) and further exploration is likely to uncover more.
As with any project of this scale, there’s a crazy amount of applications, permits etc that are required to commence operations. Pilbara Minerals have created a 3D Walkthrough of the site (Using Mapability) which you can see below or access from their website.