WA Mines Minister: No Increase to Mining Royalty Rate
After extensive review of the State’s Budget, Western Australia’s Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion confirmed there will be no changes to mineral royalty rates this year.
"The State Government notes the review's endorsement of the ad valorem system and the 10 per cent benchmark of mine-head value as an appropriate gauge for royalty returns to the community," Marmion said.
Recommendations from the review included increasing the rate imposed on gold miners from 2.5 percent to 3.75 percent.
"I can confirm that there will be no changes to royalty rates in this year's budget," Marmion said.
"I can also assure Western Australian industries and communities that, should there be any future discussion of mining royalties, the Liberal National Government remains totally committed to consultation over the issue."
Gold Royalties Response Group (GRRG) spokesman and Doray Minerals managing director, Allan Kelly, celebrated the announcement.
“On behalf of the 20,000 men and women who work in the gold industry, we say thank you,” said Kelly.
“For more than a year our industry has been speaking up on behalf of our members, our passionate workers and our supporters and we are delighted that the Barnett Government has listened.
“Today’s decision demonstrates the Government understands that the gold industry plays a critical role in keeping our economy and our community strong.
“It is also clear the Government knows that our industry is doing it tough in a highly competitive global market.”
Despite the high praise from gold miners, the Chamber of Minerals and Energy’s Nicole Rooke insisted the Government provide some clarity.
"It's a mixed bag of tricks, there are some winners and losers in the recommendations," Rooke said.
"What we'd like to see is surety provided to the sector that increases won't be included going forward."
British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars
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.