By Shane Arnold, Delta Australia
March, 2021 and I am returning from a great weekend in the South West of Western Australia. Attending a wedding amongst the green trees and Australian bush near Bridgetown. It was a reminder of how amazing our country is and how lucky we are that our region is kept so pristine. So pristine in fact there were a couple of close calls with some kangaroos on the way to the venue.
Being heavily involved in the advancements of renewable energy it’s possibly arrogant to think our industry is without its shortcomings, which can put this pristine world at risk. Raw materials are still needed to manufacture our products and the method in which they are turned into finished goods needs to be questioned. I personally question this at every turn not only in my role as a manager for a renewables manufacturer but as a consumer and a parent.
The latest innovations in energy storage, namely home batteries are progressing at a rapid pace which is only outpaced by the consumer’s demand for energy security. So with all this demand where are the raw materials coming from?
Due to an unexpected traffic diversion, we were forced along the “scenic route” which had us away from the busy freeways and onto country roads that pass through quaint little country towns. While passing through Greenbushes I caught a glimpse of a small road sign that simply said “Lithium Mine”. I turned around at the nearest opportunity and headed back to explore more. A lithium mine? Here? Surely not? Not only a lithium mine but it is the Talison Lithium Mine, one of the LARGEST lithium deposits in the world!
So, how is the mining of Lithium by Talison in Australia able to do so with the least amount of environmental impact? Well, first they are technically mining the hard rock mineral known as spodumene. It is mined using the open cut method and removed as rock to then be processed. Like many open cut methods, it can be quite harsh on the eye but I was quite impressed with the minimal impact on the environment. Talison like all responsible mining operations has great policies in place that include environmental rehabilitation programs while making sure any impact is minimal.
Researching Talison it was interesting to see the transparency of their thorough policies went beyond just environmental obligations but also to Human Rights (often a contentious issue with electronics material mining), whistleblowing as well as Diversity and Inclusion. This along with the support of the local community proved to me that the mining of lithium can coincide with environment as well as community.
Next time you charge your mobile phone, battery powered lawnmower or run your house on solar energy stored in a home battery you may be right in thinking you are doing so Thanks to a little bit of WA.
Talison mine can found at 38 Blackwood Road, Greenbushes Western Australia 6254
Some of the images are provided by myself and others were sourced directly from the image gallery of Talison. I look forward to researching further the actual processing of lithium.
About the Author (Guest Contributor)
Originally from Perth, I had moved to Melbourne with my family in 2017 and joined Delta Australia as Regional Manager for PVI. Still miss the beaches in Perth but loving the vibrancy in Melbourne. Ask me anything about Straya and Australian solar power industry. It’s not what you think it is. Connect with me on @shanefromdelta on IG.