Greenbushes Lithium Operations
The Greenbushes Lithium Operations are located directly south and immediately adjacent to the town of Greenbushes in Western Australia. It is approximately 250 kilometres south of Perth and Fremantle, a major container shipping port, and 90 kilometres south-east of the Port of Bunbury, a major bulk handling port, in the south-west of Western Australia. .
The Greenbushes Lithium Operations is located in State Forest and adjoins an agricultural region comprised of sheep and cattle farms, tree plantations and vineyards. The attractive location of the Greenbushes Lithium Operations, both in proximity to Perth and also the holiday regions of south-west Western Australia, enables Talison Lithium to recruit and retain a talented and stable workforce, who generally live in the local area.
The location of the Greenbushes Lithium Operations is set out below.
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Talison Lithium and its predecessor companies have been producing lithium from the Greenbushes Lithium Operations for over 25 years and the Greenbushes area is recognised as the longest continuously operated mining area in Western Australia.
Tin mining commenced in the Greenbushes area in 1888 and mining of tantalum commenced in the 1940s. Initial development of the lithium ore body at Greenbushes commenced in 1983 and the first lithium processing plant was commissioned in 1985. Since that time, the lithium processing plant has been expanded several times to produce a range of lithium concentrates.
Talison Lithium completed its most recent expansion of the Greenbushes Lithium Operations in mid 2012.
The Greenbushes pegmatites belong to the Lithium-Caesium-Tantalum family. The Greenbushes pegmatite deposit intrudes along a major northwest regional fault zone. It is approximately 2,525 million years old. The pegmatite consists of a large main zone over 3 kms long and up to 300 m wide with numerous smaller pegmatite dykes and pods flanking the main body. The Greenbushes pegmatites are mineralogically zoned in a lenticular interfingering style along strike and down dip. The lithium zone is over 2 kms long and enriched in the lithium-bearing mineral spodumene which often makes up 50% of the rock. Tantalum. The Greenbushes pegmatite has unique features that distinguish it from many other rare-metal pegmatites.
Lithium ore (spodumene) at Greenbushes is mined from the fresh, unweathered zones in the pegmatite that are exposed in the open pits.
Mining is traditional drill and blast method with ore graded and stockpiled according to its mineralogical characteristics and grade. Waste material is trucked to designated areas within the site where it is contoured and replanted as part of an ongoing rehabilitation plan.
The Greenbushes Lithium Operations has two processing plants, one producing technical-grade lithium concentrates and one producing chemical-grade lithium concentrate. Ore containing 3.0% to 4.5% Li2O is fed into the processing plants which upgrade the lithium mineral, using gravity, heavy media, flotation and magnetic processes, into a range of lithium concentrates for bulk or bagged shipment.
Various operating modes are used in the processing plants to produce a variety of different lithium concentrates to meet specific customer requirements.