Western Australia's newest lithium mine was officially opened this morning, marking the seventh operating mine in the state.
Altura Mining’s 100 per cent-owned Pilgangoora lithium mine is located 90 kilometres south-east of Port Hedland and will support 130 ongoing jobs.
The mine will produce about 220,000 tonnes per annum of lithium spodumene concentrate but the company is already considering plans to double production to tap into growing global battery demand for electric vehicles and storage.
The Pilgangoora lithium deposit currently has an ore reserve estimate of 41.1 million tonnes.
The mine took just 18 months to construct, which Altura’s Managing Director James Brown said was testament to the drive and passion of all parties involved.
He said they were now in a strong position to benefit from the robust lithium market fundamentals they were seeing globally.
“Our operations team have been able to deliver encouraging results from the mine and processing plant to allow us to commence trucking our spodumene product to Port Hedland during August," he said.
"The immediate focus of Altura is to load our initial spodumene cargo with the vessel due for arrival in the middle of this month.”
In 2017 lithium WA lithium sales reached $780 million and the sector employed more than 1,200 people.
Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston officially opened the mine and said the state's aim was to help companies like Altura develop a world-leading lithium industry.
Beyond just exporting lithium the state government's lithium and energy materials industry taskforce is investigating the state's ability to produce and process lithium and other energy materials.
The taskforce will present a lithium and energy materials strategy to cabinet over the next few months.
Mr Johnston said by expanding further into the battery materials value chain, the state would further diversify the WA economy.
Hamish is a reporter writing for WAtoday in Perth.