One of biggest success stories in Western Australia’s mining sector is in the sleepy South-West town of Greenbushes - and it doesn’t involve iron ore, gold or nickel.
Resources Minister Francis Logan last week visited Talison Minerals’ tantalum and spodumene mine in Greenbushes, 250km south-east of Perth, and was impressed at the impact the mine was having on international markets.
The operation is currently producing 50 percent of the world’s tantalum and 80 per cent of the world’s lithium minerals.
“Minerals produced at the mine are used in mobile phones and computers all around the world - WA is at the forefront of the telecommunication revolution,” Mr Logan said.
“Many people think WA’s resources industry is about providing products for big infrastructure but Greenbushes proves that the industry can have a major impact on products we all use every day.
“Mining in WA has a long and prosperous history and Greenbushes has played a big role in this and will continue to do so in the future.”
The Greenbushes operation is the largest single operating tantalum and spodumene mine in the world. Mining began in 1888, making it WA’s longest continuously operated mine.
Tantalum is used in the manufacture of capacitors for mobile phones, automotive electronics and computers. It is also used for mill products, high temperature metal alloys for gas turbines and jet engines and for surgical applications.
Spodumene, the lithium mineral, is used to make heat resistant glass cookware, microwave ovenware and glass cook tops. It is also used for ceramics, and metallurgical applications, and as a feed stock for producing lithium chemicals.
Lithium, being the lightest metal in the world, is used in aircraft and space structures.
Greenbushes general manager Pat Scallan said the operation comprised of open-pit and underground mines, a primary and secondary tantalum processing plant, tin smelter and a lithium plant.
“Greenbushes is a big operation with mineral resources of about 91 million tonnes of tantalum with a processing capacity of four million tonnes per annum and about 36 million tonnes of lithium minerals with a processing capacity of 500 thousand tonnes per annum,” Mr Scallan said.
“Our Wodgina mine in the Pilbara currently produces primary tantalum concentrates which we process here at Greenbushes.
“It is an exciting time for the resources industry in the State and Talison is competing in the world’s lucrative mineral export market.”
Mr Logan also visited the Greenbushes Discovery Centre, an interactive display which captures the many different aspects of life in the town.
Built and created by volunteers and partly funded by the South-West Development Commission, the centre includes an underground mining display and an interactive trip on a logging truck.
“This centre is a terrific addition to the fabric of life in Greenbushes,” the Minister said.
“I congratulate all those people involved in its creation and I encourage anyone visiting the town to enjoy its displays.”
More information on Talison Minerals’ operations in Greenbushes is available at www.talison.com.au
Minister's office - 9222 8950