Welcome to the latest issue of MINE Australia.

In this edition, we consider the changing role of lithium in the global mining industry, as the world’s industrial leaders look to the mineral for a range of new technologies, most notably batteries. While Chile boasts the world’s largest lithium deposits, Australia’s well-established mining industry and commitment to mineral production make the country an attractive investment for lithium explorers and developers, and there is considerable potential for the nascent Australian lithium sector. 

Of course, challenges remain before this potential is realised, beginning with the environmental costs associated with any mining operation of scale. Australian lithium mining is also less efficient than sectors in other countries due to the quality of Australia’s lithium deposits, a state of affairs that could dissuade investment in a sector where the bottom line still reigns supreme. 

Elsewhere, we speak to Iluka Resources about technological innovation at its facilities, to improve operational efficiency, and check in with Rio Tinto’s latest pledges to support indigenous groups, and ask how the miner is backing up these claims. 

We also assess the impacts of the ongoing inquiry into the treatment of women at Australian mining operations. With the sector rocked by the publication of several reports alleging a culture of toxicity and abuse in recent months, the leaders of both Australia and its mining industry have considerable work to do to address this entrenched culture of violence.  

For all this and more, read on.

JP Casey, editor