May 17, 2020

Vale to Close Australian Mine; 500 Miners Laid-Off

Vale S.A
Integra coal mine complex
Murilo Ferreira
2 min
Vale to Close Australian Mine; 500 Miners Laid-Off
Mining company Vale confirmed on Friday the closure of its Integra coal mine complex in eastern Australia due to the economic conditions of the coal mar...

Mining company Vale confirmed on Friday the closure of its Integra coal mine complex in eastern Australia due to the economic conditions of the coal market. 500 miners are expected to be out of work as Vale will end output of the mine and place it under “care and maintenance” status.

The company, which lost $480 million on its coal business in 2013, has faced immense pressure from investors to cut costs and streamline business better. Vale Chief Executive Officer Murilo Ferreira had previously said he did not expect any mines would be closed.

The Integra complex, which includes the underground Glennies Creek and the Camberwell open cut mines, are operated by subsidiary Integra in NSW Hunter Valley.

The 500 lay-offs are reportedly the largest in history for the area and will have an enormous economic impact.

"We're talking all up about 500 jobs there, so that's going to have a massive impact on the Singleton and surrounding towns where most of those workers and their families live," Peter Jordan of the Construction Forestry Mining and energy Union told ABC.

Vale is taking drastic measures as coal prices have fallen by at least 30 percent in the past two years.

The Integra complex, which is located in New South Wales, produces about 4.5 million tons of coal per year from both its underground and open cut mine. The mine produces both metallurgical and thermal coal.

The coal sector in Australia has been hit hard as of late as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have also closed several coal mines recently, including BHP’s Norwich Park and Gregory operations in eastern Australia. In March, Glencore Xstrata closed its Ravensworth underground coal mine in Hunter Valley. 

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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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