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WA eager to maintain critical minerals status

Image shows a hand holding rare earth ore

Photo by Bloomberg

22nd March 2023

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

     

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PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Western Australia is hoping to maintain its position as a major producer of critical minerals into the future.

Speaking at the second day of Paydirt’s Battery Minerals conference, in Perth, Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Johnston said that the government was investing A$22.5-million into supporting a clear pathway and providing additional resources for green energy projects including critical mineral projects.

“We're working closely together with the Australian government to make sure that Western Australia remains an important destination for resources here in Western Australia. And I like the fact that we continue to support early-stage exploration because we understand the link between supporting early-stage exploration and a successful mining industry.”

Pointing towards Western Australia’s current critical minerals capacity, Johnston noted that the state was set to supply 10% of global lithium hydroxide by 2024 from existing operations, which would increase to 20% of global supply by 2027.

Furthermore, the state’s rare earths capacity is also set to increase, with Lynas’ Kalgoorlie operation nearing completion and Iluka’s Eneabba rare earths refinery also under construction.

Eneabba is expected to cost between A$1-billion and A$1.2-billion to develop, and will have a 17 500 t/y total rare earth oxide capacity.

Additionally, ASX-listed Hastings Technology Metals is also developing its one-million-tonne-a-year Yangibana operation which is expected to produce 15 000 t/y of mixed rare earths carbonate, and about 8 850 t/y of total rare-earth oxides, at a capital spend of A$517-million.

“The point there is that within a very few years, Western Australia will be the number two supplier of rare earths to the globe and the only significant Western supplier of rare earths. When you add that to our strength in battery materials, you can see that we're going to have a very important part to play in the West's development of new technologies. And that's on top of high purity alumina, graphite, cobalt sulphate and other materials that we can see, and all these projects that are underway here in Western Australia.”

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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