Talison Gets Green Light for AU$516-million Greenbushes Expansion

- July 25th, 2018

Talison Lithium has just received approved for a AU$516-million expansion for the Greenbushes project in Western Australia. A separate expansion is still ongoing.

Talison Lithium (TSX:TLH) has officially received approval for a AU$516-million expansion of its Western Australia-based Greenbushes lithium project.

A new lithium concentrate plant will be constructed as part of the expansion, and it will be capable of producing 520,000 tonnes per year of chemical-grade lithium concentrate. A new crushing plant and necessary infrastructure will also be added.

The expansion is set to increase lithium concentrate production capacity by 608,000 tonnes per year, with output reaching 1.95 million tonnes per year in total.

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According to a statement from the company, the crushing plant will have the capacity to support another chemical-grade lithium concentration plant of a similar size.

“Greenbushes is a truly world-class mining operation with the capacity for significant expansion to underpin the lithium supply needs of our shareholders, Tianqi Lithium and Albemarle,” Talison Lithium CEO Lorry Mignacca said.

“In addition to the major investment by Talison in Greenbushes, the expanded lithium concentrate production at Greenbushes will underpin the development of world-class lithium hydroxide production plants in Western Australia, driven by Tianqi and Albemarle, underpinning a new value-adding and jobs-creating industry in this state,” Mignacca added.

Talison is a joint venture between Tianqi Lithium (SZSE:002466) (51 percent) and Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) (49 percent). Both are top lithium producers and have other ongoing operations relating to the Greenbushes project.

In the case of Tianqi, the company is constructing a lithium hydroxide plant in Kwinana, 40 kilometers from Perth, which will use feed from the Greenbushes mine with an operational start date planned for late 2018. Meanwhile, Albemarle is working on a lithium hydroxide manufacturing plant that will process spodumene ore concentrate supplied from Greenbushes.

Talison’s latest expansion plans are a fresh addition to a currently ongoing AU$320-million expansion taking place at Greenbushes; it is now estimated as 90-percent complete and will push production capacity to 1.34 million tonnes per year.

Work on the newest expansion is set to start in 2019’s first quarter, with commissioning of the new lithium concentrate plant planned for 2020’s fourth quarter.

It’s worth noting that Talison is currently in the midst of court battle with Global Advanced Metals over expansion plans at Greenbushes. The company owns the rights to tantalum and other minerals produced at Greenbushes, and has asked that any expansions be halted to ensure its rights are secure.

Trials are set for October 16 and October 31; commenting on the latest expansion, Global Advanced Metals CEO Andrew O’Donovan said, “contractually the expansion of Talison’s lithium production cannot be at the expense of GAM’s rights to its tantalum and all other minerals at Greenbushes.”

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Securities Disclosure: I, Olivia Da Silva, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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