In March 2017, Talison Lithium (a joint venture between Albemarle and Tianqi Lithium, the parent company of Tianqi Lithium Australia) announced a $320 million expansion to double production at its Greenbushes mine.
The historic mine, 250km south of Perth and about 90km south east of the Port of Bunbury, has produced lithium for more than 25 years and tantalum since the 1940s, and under an expansion will expand LCE capacity from 80,000mtpa to more than 160,000mtpa.
The mine currently produced about 65,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent each year.
Commissioning of the expansion was expected to begin in the second quarter of 2019.
However, the expansion plans have since been muddled by an ongoing legal dispute between Talison and Global Advanced Metals, which claims the upgrade will waste the mine’s tantalum resource, over which it has rights.
Tianqi Lithium Australia general manager Phil Thick said while he couldn’t comment on the legal action, as far has he knew the Greenbushes expansion was “progressing and on schedule”.