Time to act on lithium is now: report

Australia has an opportunity to dominate the global battery market, according to a new report by the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC).

The report, A lithium industry in Australia: A value chain analysis for downstreaming Australia’s lithium resources, utlines the opportunity Australia has to expand along the estimated $2 trillion lithium value chain in the next two years.

The lithium in the batteries of smartphones and electrical vehicles represent one of Australia’s great opportunities.

AMEC chief executive officer Warren Pearce said the report is a call to action.

“There is a unique opportunity for Australia to undertake greater lithium downstream processing,” Mr Pearce said.

“Australia produces more than 60 per cent of the world’s lithium, dominating one end of the value chain.

“Australia also produces all of the minerals (other than soda ash) that are needed to manufacture lithium rechargeable batteries.

“Australia has a series of comparative advantages that we can capitalise on, if government and industry collaborate to achieve greater downstream processing.”

WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston welcomed the report and acknowledged the importance of developing further downstream processing opportunities in the state.

“The McGowan Government is committed to supporting investment in lithium and battery materials to create jobs,” Mr Johnston said.

“I’d like to thank AMEC for adding to the research for this emerging industry.

“Western Australia’s lithium reserves, combined with our technical skills, industry capabilities and our close proximity to the manufacturing centres in Asia, make our state well placed to capitalise on the growing needs of the battery market.”

With projects at Greenbushes, Mt Cattlin, Mt Marion and Pilgangoora all ramping up production, Australia is set to dominate the front of the lithium value chain for the foreseeable future.

“It is important that all levels of government engage with industry to grasp this opportunity,” Mr Pearce said.

“We need government to support industry to create new jobs and revenues for local communities.

“We have a window of roughly two years before it is set where battery components and batteries will be manufactured and by whom.

“If we work collaboratively Australia could take a leading role in one of the breakthrough energy technologies. The time to act is now.”