The Greenbushes pegmatite was first mined for tin and tantalite in the late 1880’s with operations restricted to the weathered surface material. Deeper exploration a century later revealed the presence of spodumene.
The operation, which has changed ownership many times is now owned by Talison Minerals and is the world’s largest producer of low-iron content spodumene concentrates at a variety of grades. Concentrates, until recently at least, are also shipped to China for lithium chemical production there although the company’s own efforts to produce chemicals in the 1970’s failed.
The pegmatite has a strike length of 3 kms and has not been fully explored. The Sons of Gwalia Annual Report for 2003 stated proved, probable and possible reserves of 223,000 tonnes Li.
At Mount Marion, also in Western Australia, Roberts (2004) reported on a group of deposits with total reserves of 19,800 tonnes Li.
Galaxy Resources is currently undertaking an evaluation of a spodumene deposit at Mount Catlin near Ravensthorpe. The company hopes to come on stream with lithium carbonate production in 2010 from reserves of 20,000 tonnes of lithium.
Queensland Gold & Minerals is currently exploring for pegmatites near Georgetown in Queensland.