Western Australia supplies about half of the world’s lithium and is in the top five global suppliers of nickel and cobalt, making the State’s economy a significant beneficiary of the unprecedented global demand and prevailing prices for those commodities.
Western Australia’s Minister for Mines and Petroleum, and Energy Bill Johnston told delegates on day two of Paydirt’s Battery Minerals Conference in Perth that the contribution of lithium royalties, in particular, had grown rapidly over the last year.
Minister Johnston highlighted the fact WA now had two operating lithium hydroxide plants and a nickel sulphate plant, demonstrating the State’s ability to move further down the processing supply chain.
“We are an important contributor to the global supply of lithium hydroxide. We will have 10 per cent of the global supply by next year and, just on the existing investments, we will have 20 per cent by 2027,” Minister Johnston said.
“We now know there is significant interest in precursor cathode active material manufacturing here in Western Australia.”
Minister Johnston drew particular attention to the State’s emerging position in the rare earths sector.
“The Lynas plant in nearing completion in Kalgoorlie, a very important plant that will supply rare earths to western industry; and, of course, the Iluka plant is now under construction at Eneabba,” he said.
“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.
“If you add that to our strength in battery materials, you can see we are going to have a very important part to play in the west’s development of new technologies.”