Western Australia’s Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) has urged the national government to expand the estimated $2tn lithium value chain within the next two years.
AMEC has released a report by Future Smart Strategies, titled ‘A lithium industry in Australia: A value chain analysis for downstreaming Australia’s lithium resources’.
According to the report, Australia produces more than 60% of the world’s lithium, a key ingredient in electric vehicles and batteries for smartphones.
Western Australia Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said: “I welcome AMEC’s report and acknowledge the importance of developing further downstream processing opportunities in WA, which will help diversify our economy.
“The McGowan government is committed to supporting investment in lithium and battery materials to create jobs. I’d like to thank AMEC for adding to the research for this emerging industry.
“Western Australia’s lithium reserves, combined with our technical skills, industry capabilities and our close proximity to the manufacturing centres in Asia, make our state well-placed to capitalise on the growing needs of the battery market.”
According to AMEC, Australia will dominate the lithium value chain for the foreseeable future, with production ramping-up at WA lithium projects in Greenbushes, Mt Cattlin, Mt Marion and Pilgangoora.
The report recommends that government and industry work collaboratively to ensure better possible return in the global market. It was supported by Neometals, Lithium Australia, Altura, Sinosteel, Coogee Chemicals and Pilbara Minerals.
AMEC chief executive officer Warren Pearce said: “This report is a call to action; there is a unique opportunity for Australia to undertake greater lithium downstream processing.
“Australia produces over 60% of the world’s lithium, dominating one end of the value chain. Australia also produces all of the minerals (other than soda ash) that are needed to manufacture lithium rechargeable batteries.
“Australia has a series of comparative advantages that we can capitalise on, if government and industry collaborate to achieve greater downstream processing.”