Even with the growing popularity and endorsement of Electric Vehicles and therefore the lithium batteries that power them, the demand for lithium is on a decline. A study infers that the sales of the products are unable to match global projections.
Much like other resources, Australia is abundant in chemicals like lithium. As per analysts, Western Australia is one of the cheapest lithium sources in the world. Talison Lithium, the world’s largest producer of lithium concentrates products, declared that it may for now halt the expansion of project at its mine at Greenbushes in the South West, one week after securing environmental approval.
“CGP3 construction activities are currently paused as Talison’s shareholders review the timing of construction and the need for additional volumes of spodumene concentrate to align with the converting capacity additions of the shareholders. Greenbushes remains a profitable and world-class hard-rock lithium mine with a long and proud history of operating safely and supporting the South West communities in which we operate,” a spokesperson said.
Lithium in other mines is also being sold at lowered prices with some like the Mount Marion lithium mine near Kalgoorlie-Boulder selling its product at a 43 per cent discount. Due to adverse impacts on businesses, jobs are at risk too. the fall of the industry has been attributed to the slow pace at which the electric car industry is moving worldwide.
Mining analyst Tim Tredgold said that this trend may not continue for long though, “What is happening at Greenbushes is a direct reflection of global demand for electric vehicles — they are not accelerating away as quickly as people expected. The mine itself remains very profitable and is in good order, but the problem is occurring in the end market for lithium and that just hasn’t picked up,” he said.
Even with large lithium deposits in the country, the government is looking to diversify and have competitive prices to stay ahead in the global processed materials markets. Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said lithium mining was worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” to the state’s economy, with potential for that to move into “billions” if “we get it right”.
“The next step down the chain is to go from lithium hydroxide to combine that with nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate to form precursor chemicals. Once we have a position in the precursor chemical industry, we are hoping to move even further down the value chain to anode and cathode manufacturing,” he said.