The rush for ‘white gold’: How electric cars are driving new Australian lithium mines

Excerpt from smh.com.au

In eucalypt woodlands not far from Darwin, a team of workers is clearing vegetation and preparing to blast an open pit that will soon become Australia’s newest lithium mine — a future source of the vital material in batteries, smartphones and electric cars.

To either side of the Cox Peninsula, where works will start in January, there are pristine waters well-known for fishing and postcard views of mangrove-lined beaches. But for mining company Core Lithium, it’s the promise of what lies beneath the ground further inland that’s most alluring. Exploratory drilling suggests up to 7.4 million tonnes of high-grade lithium-bearing rock are locked up in the Bynoe Pegmatite Field.

“We’re aiming for the start of plant construction in March, which should have us producing high-quality lithium concentrate out of Darwin by the end of 2022,” Core’s chief executive Stephen Biggins tells The Age and the Herald.

If all goes according to plan, says Biggins, by 2022, the ASX-listed company’s new mine — the Finniss Lithium Project — is likely to become one of the first stops in a far-flung value chain supplying raw ingredients that end up in the lithium-ion batteries of plug-in vehicles manufactured by Elon Musk’s Tesla.