What you need to know about lithium production in Australia

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lithium production

In this article, we will cover the Costs, Accessibility, and Sustainability of lithium production in Australia. As this is a relatively new industry, mining operators must prove that they can produce quality products on time and within contract limits. As a result, a Vega instrument is used to measure raw solids, acids, and liquids. Using this instrument, mining operators can demonstrate their ability to meet customer expectations.

Resources of lithium in Australia

The current estimated production of lithium in Australia is 21.3 kt per annum, which is sufficient to meet the country’s demand for lithium for the next 79 years or 133 years. However, some of Australia’s lithium resources are inaccessible for mining, and these lands include national parks and military grounds. These resources are reported under confidential data and are not publicly available.

The production rate of lithium in Australia is also high, and it has been found that 95 per cent of the spodumene concentrate produced in the country is exported to China. The demand for lithium is expected to rise to 0.1 percent of iron ore, and it will require at least one million tonnes of the mineral annually to keep the EV market going. If lithium mining is permitted in Australia, it will benefit the local economy.

Costs of lithium

Lithium prices are rising despite the global shortage of this mineral. China plans to sell 3.3 million electric vehicles by 2021, but that isn’t enough to replace the world’s supply. New lithium sources will take time to build and bring online, so Australia’s key exports will remain vulnerable. But lithium isn’t the only problem. The country is also heavily exposed to decarbonisation efforts, with key resources like lithium exposed to this industry. You may visit globalroadtechnology.com/lithium-mining-Australia-history-top-locations-companies/ to learn more about this.

While the current supply crisis is primarily caused by climate change and the cost of producing lithium, the demand for lithium carbonate is also high. The price of lithium carbonate alone doubled from 2010 to 2020, and EV sales are expected to reach seven million units by 2021. 

Accessibility

The government of Australia has stated that it wants to promote lithium mining and produce the components of lithium-ion batteries. The “Lithium-ion Battery Value Chain Strategy” outlines an ambitious plan to produce lithium-ion battery cells close to its existing mines and auto assembly plants. The government is also welcoming foreign investment, including non-Chinese sources. Its goal is to develop a thriving lithium industry and attract new investors.

Currently, Western Australia provides 60% of the world’s lithium supply from five mines that produce spodumene. The remaining supply comes from South American salt flats where brines contain high lithium concentrations. These brines are then pumped into artificial ponds and concentrated by evaporation. 

Australia’s lithium reserves are abundant, and Australia is one of the few countries with sufficient resources for lithium mining. In addition to the lithium mines, Australia has an established history of developing its natural resources and exporting them, which has generated significant economic progress for the nation. The government of Australia has also encouraged foreign investment in lithium mining projects so that mining companies can develop and expand in Australia. However, expanding the business in Australia alone would have been challenging without foreign investment.

Sustainability

Lithium is a unique mineral resource, and Australia is currently the world’s leading producer, accounting for over 50% of global lithium production. Chinese companies are investing heavily in Australia’s mining industry, buying stakes in several mines. 

In Australia, lithium is mined mainly in the Pilgangoora district in New South Wales and several other locations, such as Papua New Guinea and Western Australia. The Western Australian government publishes a comprehensive list of identified mineral resources, and Lithium Australia has shortlisted four locations for its pilot plant. It is looking to make lithium production on a large scale, enough to generate sufficient income to pay operating costs and attract investors. 

With the advent of electric vehicles, the global demand for lithium has risen dramatically. Many countries have announced a phase-out of combustion-engine cars by 2030. To meet climate targets by then, five times more lithium is needed. The problem is that conventional mining methods are incredibly damaging to the environment, with significant impacts on land, water, and carbon emissions. But this is not the only issue at stake. In Australia, lithium mining is already the largest industry.

Environmental concerns

In recent years, the global demand for lithium has been rising as carmakers transition from combustion-engine cars to electric vehicles. Moreover, many countries have announced plans to phase out all combustion-engine cars by 2050. The demand for lithium is also increasing, as the world will require five times more of it to meet its climate goals by that time. However, lithium mining has numerous environmental concerns, including air and water pollution.

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