May 17, 2020

Arrium Mining Closes Iron Ore Mine, Cuts 600 Jobs in Australia

Arrium Mining
Iron ore
Southern Iron Project
2 min
Arrium Mining Closes Iron Ore Mine in Australia, Cuts 600 Jobs
Desperate times call for desperate needs. Mining company Arrium announced it will close its Southern Iron project in Australia due to declining iron ore...

Desperate times call for desperate needs. Mining company Arrium announced it will close its Southern Iron project in Australia due to declining iron ore prices, eradicating roughly 600 jobs in the process.

The move isn’t surprising. Iron ore prices are at a five-year low and down 45 percent than previous years. The decline puts Arrium in a position where it is absorbing cash despite vast achievements in cost reduction and capital expenditure.

"One of the concerns we obviously had was that this could put the entire business in jeopardy," Arrium’s chief executive of mining, Greg Waters said.

The closure of the Southern Iron project will see 200 full-time positions go, along with 350 contractors.

"This significant fall in pricing has put enormous pressure on iron ore mines across Australia, including in the NT and WA. South Australia is not immune," said Tom Koutsantonis, South Australia’s Mineral Resources and Energy Minister

"My thoughts are with the affected workers, contractors and their families who are receiving the news.

"I have spoken directly with Arrium Mining's chief executive and expressed my disappointment with the decision.

"Arrium has indicated it will honour all employee entitlements and look at opportunities for deployment of affected workers, where possible."

According to Federal local MP, Rowan Ramsey, the company had been dealing with a huge drop in iron ore price since the mine opened.

"The mining will cease, I would have thought immediately.”

"We would all hope that the falling iron ore prices is temporary, but it's not likely to be temporary for two weeks," Ramsey said.

"It's going to take some time for some of the economies to pick up and start using more steel, so it may be some time."

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Jul 20, 2021

British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars

3 min
The ever-increasing need for electric vehicles is mounting pressure on British Lithium as the 2035 deadline inches closer

The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change. 

It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.

British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad. 

Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe 

After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company. 

“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”

Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector. 

Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial. 

Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production

“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”

The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction. 

Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably. 

“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.

“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”

Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK. 

“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”

Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.

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