The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has recommended environmental approval for the expansion of the Greenbushes Lithium Mine, located approximately 250 kilometres south of Perth, subject to conditions such as the protection of threatened black cockatoos unique to Australia’s south-west.
Talison Lithium Australia Pty Ltd (Talison Lithium) and its predecessor companies have been producing lithium from the Greenbushes Lithium Operations for over 25 years and it is recognised as the longest continuously operated mining area in Western Australia.
Tin mining commenced in the Greenbushes area in 1888 and mining of tantalum commenced in the 1940s, while initial development of the lithium ore body at Greenbushes began in 1983. The first lithium processing plant was commissioned in 1985.
Since then, the lithium processing plant has been expanded several times to produce a range of lithium concentrates. Talison Lithium completed its most recent expansion of the Greenbushes Lithium Operations in mid-2012.
The EPA’s recommendation today follows a four-week public review process into the expansion’s potential environmental impacts, and additional information provided by Talison Lithium in response to issues raised from the public.
Along with several detailed management plans to protect fauna, the EPA recommended that the company targeted land acquisitions and research to offset the significant residual impact of lost habitat for threatened species, including the endangered Carnaby’s and Baudin’s black cockatoos, the critically endangered Western ringtail possum and the endangered numbat.
To reduce impacts to social surroundings, a new road was also proposed to divert increased traffic outside the Greenbushes town, in addition to conditions recommended by the EPA to manage noise, vibration, dust and visual amenity.
Water collection and controls will also be incorporated in new infrastructure, to help manage existing and potential impacts to water resources in the Blackwood Valley catchment.
The EPA’s report to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing on 22 May 2018. However, the Western Australian Minister for Environment will make the final decision on the recommendation for approval.
The news comes shortly after Talison Lithium awarded a $100 million contract to engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company, Mondium Pty Ltd (Mondium) for the design and construction of a new tailing retreatment processing plant at the south-west mine.
Subject to all final project regulatory approvals, Mondium, as the EPC contractor, would carry out all engineering and design, procurement and site construction for the plant.
The contract also includes design and construction of detailed earthworks, concrete works, structural, platework, electrical and instrumentation works and controls.
This is Mondium’s largest contract to date and its second with Talison Lithium, following the successful delivery of a new chemical-grade plant feed system at its Greenbushes operations in 2018.
Mondium Director, Bob Osmetti said the award was a testament to Mondium’s strong capability of delivering quality projects.
“We are excited to have been awarded such a significant contract and look forward to continuing our strong relationship with Talison Lithium,” Mr Osmetti said.
Work under the contract is expected to be completed by June 2020.