Talison Expands Greenbushes Lithium Operations
Talison expects to progressively in-crease capacity utilization of the expanded chemical-grade concentrate processing plant as the lithium market grows. In addi-tion, the expansion will provide high-quali-ty feedstock for Talison’s proposed 20,000-mt/y lithium carbonate plant in the Kwinana Industrial Area 40 km south of Perth and 200 km northeast of the Greenbushes mine. Talison is targeting pro-duction of lithium carbonate in 2015, and, at full production, the lithium carbonate plant would consume approximately 20% of Talison’s annual chemical-grade concen-trate production.
Talison is targeting an investment deci-sion on the proposed lithium carbonate plant by the end of 2012.
The Greenbushes pegmatite deposit intrudes along a major northwest regional fault zone. The pegmatite consists of a large main zone over 3 km long and up to 300 m wide, with numerous smaller peg-matite dykes and pods flanking the main body. The pegmatites are mineralogically zoned in a lenticular, interfingering style along strike and down dip. The lithium zone is more than 2 km long and enriched in lithium-bearing mineral spodumene, which often makes up 50% of the rock.
Spodumene is mined from the fresh, unweathered zones in the pegmatite that are exposed in open-pits. Mining is tradi-tional drill-and-blast method, with ore graded and stockpiled according to its min-eralogical characteristics and grade.
The Greenbushes operation has two pro-cessing plants, one producing technical-grade lithium concentrate and one produc-ing chemical-grade lithium concentrate. Ore containing 3% to 4.5% Li2 O is fed into the processing plants for upgrading using gravity, heavy media, flotation and magnet-ic processes into a range of lithium con-centrates for bulk or bagged shipment.