May 17, 2020

Glencore Begins $589M Expansion of Copper Mine in Queensland

Glencore
Australia
Queensland
Ernest Henry Mine
Admin
2 min
Aerial view of the Ernest Henry Mine
Swiss-based Glencore has invested $589 million into the expansion of the Ernest Henry Mine in Queensland. The investment aims to increase production and...

Swiss-based Glencore has invested $589 million into the expansion of the Ernest Henry Mine in Queensland. The investment aims to increase production and extend the life of the mine by transitioning the copper site from an open-pit to underground shaft mine.

“This investment in Ernest Henry has effectively added 14 years to the life of the mine to 2026,” said Glencore COO for North Queensland copper, Mike Westerman.

“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to sustain production at a higher rate, continue to support around 500 employees plus contractors and deliver ongoing benefits to the Cloncurry community and economy.”

Expansion of the mine will include a one-kilometer shaft, which is expected to drastically increase the production volume by facilitating access to deposits deep beneath the earth. Glencore expects to double annual metal production to 50,000 tons of copper and 70,000 ounces of gold in concentrate over an extended mine life, which is expected to reach 2026.  

The investment will also provide access to over 50 kilometers of underground development as well as the construction of a 75-meter headframe to accommodate the company’s hoisting system.

According to Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Andrew Cripps, the extension of the mine will contribute immensely to the regional economy of north-west Queensland.

“The $589 million commitment to continue to grow the mine will provide a major boost to Queensland’s economy and has secured jobs that would not have otherwise existed,” said Andrew Cripps.

“The transition to underground shaft mining will see mine operations extended to at least 2026 and provide jobs for more than 500 employees and contractors.”

The investment is expected to provide a vital boost to Glencore’s copper operations. 

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Jul 20, 2021

British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars

BritishLithium
mining
Lithium
Sustainability
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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