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A MINING BOOM OF THE LITHIUM KIND

As a state that continues to stake its claim as the world’s lithium mining capital, Western Australia is at the forefront of our nation’s ‘economic engine room’, and thus a huge player in the commodities game.

Whilst a mineral of multifaceted uses, the demand for Lithium has grown significantly in recent years, due to its increasing use in rechargeable batteries for portable devices – such as in mobile phones, computers and power tools – as well as in electric bikes, hybrid and electronic cars, and other vehicles. And with the popularity of these household items not set to slow down any time soon, the popularity of this mineral will continue to soar – having already opened the doors to a new boom for WA’s mining industry. 

Rare Earth and Lithium Fast Facts

  • Australia’s Rare Earth Oxide resources totalled 3.19 million tonnes (Mt) of Economic Demonstrated Resources (EDR) in 2013 with a further 23.24Mt Inferred Resources.
  • The majority of the world’s identified rare earth deposits are light rare earths, while demand exceeds supply for the heavy rare earths. Western Australia does have a number of highly prospective light and heavy rare earths projects under evaluation.
  • Australia has well-developed technology and research capability through to the processing stages of mixing oxides.
  • Australia’s Lithium EDR was estimated to be 1538 kilotonnes (kt) in 2013 with a further Inferred Resource of 139 kt.
  • All deposits occur within hard rock pegmatite deposits.
  • The bulk of Australia’s lithium resources are in the Greenbushes’ spodumene deposit and the Mount Marion spodumene deposit in Western Australia

Lithium at Home: What Does this Mean?

As the global demand for lithium has surged dramatically, over the course of the last 12-15 months Egan Drilling has been putting the tools to test, working alongside a range of exploration companies and generating more work for mine sites and WA’s economy alike. Recent news articles have hinted at a new era of mining as demand for battery power soars, and many ASX listed mining companies have also observed massive increases in their share price. As well as this, an estimated 500 million dollar investment could see the construction of up to 7 mines by early 2018. While 7 sites might not sound like much, keep in mind that only 1 mine actively produced lithium in 2016.

As a result, this resurgence has encourage many mining companies to keep a close eye on emerging trends in green economies, such as neodymium and yttrium rare earths, which create the magnets used in wind turbines, and gallium and indium for solar panels and energy-efficient lighting. WA’s Pilbara region is rich in these precious metals, and so the race is on to develop the hidden resource and cash in on future demand.

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