Direct tantalum mining to begin in WA

Friday, 09 February, 2018

Direct tantalum mining to begin in WA

The world’s largest supplier of tantalum products has announced it will begin direct tantalum mining in Western Australia, intending to make the state the world’s largest source of the mineral.

Global Advanced Metals (GAM) has announced that it has commenced the process to start direct tantalum mining operations at its Greenbushes Mine assets in Western Australia, commencing within the next 12 months.

Currently GAM exercises the company’s rights to receive tantalum extracted by Talison Lithium during active lithium bearing spodumene mining operations at Greenbushes. GAM has prepared and submitted to Talison Lithium a formal Mine Development Plan outlining how mining tantalum at Greenbushes can commence in the next 12 months.

Greenbushes is located in the south-west region of Western Australia and for decades was a significant source of the world’s tantalum supply. GAM plans to redevelop its Greenbushes assets, combining the planned tantalum mining operations with further processing of tantalum derived as a by-product of lithium mining in Western Australia, into the world’s largest single source of tantalum to supply its substantial downstream manufacturing facilities in the USA and Japan.

“Greenbushes is central to our Australian tantalum development strategy as we restore Western Australia’s position as a major supply hub in the global tantalum market,” said GAM CEO Andrew O’Donovan. “As an integrated processor and supplier of tantalum products to the electronics, aerospace, medical and other industries, a long-term and reliable primary source of tantalum supply is key to providing stability assurance to our direct customers and further downstream end users.”

O’Donovan said GAM was acutely aware of the need to carefully manage concurrent lithium and tantalum operations in the same mining area.

“The separation of exploration rights for different minerals has become commonplace in Western Australia to facilitate mining development and we expect concurrent mining of separate interests at Greenbushes to become a showpiece of how this co-mining can be managed,” he said.

“A large part of our focus in the development of the Greenbushes tantalum mine plan is ensuring employee and environmental safety while maximising tantalum production and the royalty revenue and jobs it will create for Western Australia.”

Greenbushes is located in the south-west region of Western Australia and is a well-known major lithium and tantalum production site. Talison Lithium currently undertakes mining operations for its own lithium and GAM’s tantalum.

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