‘Spectacular’ opportunity for WA’s lithium industry

June 27, 2018

Spectacular opportunity: Murdoch Chancellor David Flanagan says now is the time for WA's burgeoning lithium industry

Murdoch University Chancellor David Flanagan says Western Australia has an enormous opportunity to contribute to the future of the planet through its burgeoning lithium ion battery industry.

Mr Flanagan, who is the managing director of Battery Minerals, said good State and Federal Government policy and cooperation between industry representatives and regulatory bodies were crucial if the industry in Western Australia was to reach its full potential.

“Western Australia is already a key player in the global supply of lithium products,” Mr Flanagan said. “It’s the same with cobalt, nickel and graphite – which are all needed to produce lithium batteries that are set to power the world.”

Lithium-ion batteries are used in electric vehicles, smart phones and lightweight laptops, and will increasingly be used to provide power storage to homes and industry.

Mr Flanagan said 33 global automotive companies had moved into manufacturing electric vehicles. In countries like Norway, laws were being drawn up to ban production of normal combustion engine vehicles.  It would be illegal to sell combustion vehicles within a decade, he added.

China, Europe and the USA were all looking to swap from fossil fuels to electric power across a range of industries, making the lithium industry in WA a globally significant player.

“The application of computing power in the management of battery packs has delivered huge efficiencies and longer-range electric vehicles,” Mr Flanagan said.  “Combined with lower-cost vehicles, we are at a tipping point right now.

“There’s no limit to where computing and battery power might lead us over the next five to seven years.”

Mr Flanagan said the world was moving towards the installation of micro grids and closed cell power grids. These would deliver fresh water, cheaper electricity and lower transport costs to poorer regions.

“There is an opportunity to use lithium batteries to close the gap world-wide,” he said. “WA has an incredible opportunity to tap into producing the chemicals that make lithium batteries possible.

“We are not unique in our access to these mineral resources.  They are not rare but we are two to three years ahead of other countries, and we have an advantage.  If we don’t use it we will lose it.”

Mr Flanagan said investment opportunities and proactive universities that attracted the best and brightest researchers and scientists from around the world would help turn WA into ‘Lithium Valley’.

“We also need well-informed and well-funded financial and environmental regulators and clever diplomacy efforts from across the State and Federal Governments and aligned corporate entities to make it all happen.”

The industry must also be prepared to remain focussed throughout the boom and bust cycle that inevitably followed when new mining and resources industries exploded onto the international market.

“Now is the time for WA to capitalise on the opportunities lithium presents,” Mr Flanagan said. “It’s already cheaper to buy an electric car, and with some of the biggest economies in the world looking to change to electric power, car ownership will change rapidly.

“If we sit on our hands and allow another resource-rich nation to fill the void, it will be a massive lost opportunity.”

** The 2018 International Lithium Conference, co-sponsored by The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, will be held at Murdoch University from June 27-28.

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Media contact: Connie Clarke
Tel: (08) 9360 2734  |  Mobile: 0424 287 361  |  Email: connie.clarke@murdoch.edu.au
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Comments (One response)

Tiante Tarakia June 29, 2018

excellent vision, one that Murdoch has the potential to contribute to or capitalise on. It's time for actions now, cheers.

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