Gold­fields ripe for bat­tery projects

COM­MENT

Kalgoorlie Miner - - MINETALK - War­ren Pearce War­ren Pearce is the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Min­ing and Ex­plo­ration Com­pa­nies.

Next week I will be join­ing in­dus­try and com­mu­nity mem­bers at Kal­go­or­lie-Boul­der Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try’s What’s Down the Track Fo­rum to con­sider the fu­ture for the re­gion.

With the re­source sec­tor well into a strong re­cov­ery, this is an ex­cit­ing time to be dis­cussing the op­por­tu­ni­ties for the Gold­fields. Kal­go­or­lie has a long and suc­cess­ful his­tory of min­ing, and is home to one of the rich­est square miles of gold on Earth.

It has been a sub­stan­tial pro­ducer of most min­er­als for most of its his­tory, but there is still more we can do.

While gold has tended to dom­i­nate dis­cus­sion for the re­gion, lately it has be­come more ev­i­dent that there is in­creas­ing po­ten­tial for lithium and other bat­tery min­er­als to con­trib­ute to the Gold­field story. Cur­rently, West­ern Aus­tralia pro­duces most of the world’s lithium by value, dom­i­nat­ing one end of the value chain.

All the other the min­er­als that are needed to man­u­fac­ture bat­ter­ies can also be found here in a vary­ing level of de­vel­op­ment.

The op­por­tu­nity to in­vest in the bat­tery min­er­als sec­tor is tremen­dous, and there are al­ready a num­ber of projects ex­plor­ing, de­vel­op­ing and min­ing bat­tery min­er­als. Un­der­pin­ning these projects is the pre­dicted growth and de­mand for bat­ter­ies in the com­ing decade.

An in­de­pen­dent re­port pre­pared for AMEC iden­ti­fied that the cur­rently $165 bil­lion global lithium value chain will grow to a con­ser­va­tively es­ti­mated $2 tril­lion by 2025.

To fuel this grow­ing de­mand more bat­tery min­er­als projects will need to be de­vel­oped, and where bet­ter to ex­pand than Kal­go­or­lie?

How­ever, the op­por­tu­ni­ties don’t come with­out a few hur­dles along the way.

There is a real is­sue with skilled worker short­ages, Fed­eral and State gov­ern­ment pro­cess­ing times and leg­isla­tive un­cer­tainty.

Kal­go­or­lie has ex­pe­ri­enced con­sid­er­able fi­nan­cial and eco­nomic pres­sures, fluc­tu­at­ing com­mod­ity prices, and a low level of pri­vate in­vest­ment. Though over the last year these winds have shifted and are now blow­ing in our favour, the re­gion must fo­cus on max­imis­ing re­source po­ten­tial to cre­ate new rev­enue streams, lo­cal job op­por­tu­ni­ties, and re­gional de­vel­op­ment.

The fu­ture looks bright for the Gold­fields, but we must work to­gether to re­alise the op­por­tu­nity.

Pic­ture: Josh Chiat

Ex­pe­ri­enced op­er­a­tor Dun­can Gibbs re­cently left Sun­rise Dam.

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