The small town of Greenbushes is a historic timber and mining settlement located between Balingup and Bridgetown in Western Australia. The town got its title from the unfamiliar green bushes that surrounded a local well that was often used by voyagers travelling south from Bunbury.
Greenbushes first became a mining town in the 1880’s when tin was discovered in a local creek, sparking a number of settlers moving to the area to strike it lucky. These days, the town has become one of the world’s most important locations for the electric vehicles and mobile phone industry with Greenbushes producing 30% of the entire world market of lithium concentrate. Given the world’s increasing need for lithium ion batteries, the town is set to experience another boom, with lithium giants Talison Lithium, Tianqi Lithium and Albermarle Corp set to invest nearly $2 billion into the industry.
The investment will include an $836 million dollar expansion of the mine at Greenbushes, as well as about $1 billion to be spent on new processing plants in Kwinana and Kemerton. The Greenbushes three stage mine expansion will employ hundreds of construction workers as well as increasing the mine’s permanent workforce to about 650 workers. Talison Lithium plans for most of the workers to live within the Greenbushes community, a move that is aimed at increasing the overall economic benefit for the local community. Although some workers live as far as 90km away in Bunbury, Talison requires that employees on the more common longer 12-hour shifts must live within 50km of the mine to mitigate fatigue.
Tim Clynch, the chief executive of the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes is calling on the state and federal government to join forces and safeguard the colossal opportunity offered by the arrival of new jobs to the area. Tim says he would like to see the mining company’s investments “maximised” and be used to develop regional infrastructure to enable new industry and service business to play a role in the expansion.
Once completed, the expansion will see Greenbushes produce up to 2.3 million tonnes of lithium concentrate per year.