PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) this week approved the expansion of the Greenbushes lithium mine, some 250 km from Perth.
The A$516-million expansion, which was green-lit by owner Talison Lithium last year, would entail the construction of a new lithium concentrate plant capable of producing 520 000 t/y of chemical-grade lithium concentrate, a new crushing plant and the necessary infrastructure.
The expansion, along with debottlenecking of the existing lithium concentration plants, will increase the lithium concentrate production capacity at Greenbushes by 608 000 t/y, to about 1.95-milllion tonnes a year.
The EPA this week approved the environmental plans for the expansion, subject to a number of conditions, including the protection of the threatened black cockatoos, which are unique to Australia’s south-west region.
Along with several detailed management plans to protect fauna, the EPA recommended that Talison fund targeted land acquisitions and research to offset the significant residual impact of lost habitat for threatened species, including the endangered Carnaby’s and Baudin’s black cockatoos, the critically endangered Western ringtail possum, and the endangered numbat.
EPA chairperson Dr Tom Hatton said the proposed expansion was not expected to result in an unacceptable or unsustainable impact on the fauna listed as threatened under state and commonwealth laws.
“Habitat types within the development envelope are reported to be well-represented in the immediate vicinity and broader Blackwood district,” Hatton said.
“Clearing of 350 ha of native vegetation on mining tenements, in state forest used for mining since 1888, timber and some agriculture, is unavoidable for the proposal to proceed.
“The proponent reduced the size of the development envelope and, in preference to further clearing within state forest, located proposed infrastructure in areas already disturbed.”
The EPA’s report to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing on May 22, with the Minister expected to make a final decision on the recommendation of approval.