Australia has another new lithium mine with today’s official opening of Altura Mining’s latest operation in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The project took about 18 months from the start of construction, Altura (ASX:AJM) told investors.

The company’s share price added 4 per cent to reach an intra-day peak of 26c before heading back 2 per cent to close at 24.5c on Wednesday.

The opening of the Altura mine comes a few months after the Mark McGowan-led WA government announced the establishment of a Lithium and Energy Materials Industry taskforce to capitalise on the State’s potential to produce and process lithium and other energy materials.

Western Australia wants to establish a “Lithium Valley” in WA and the Pilbara has been tossed into the ring as a potential location.

WA is one of the world’s biggest lithium producers.

Altura Mining (ASX:AJM) shares over the past year.
Altura Mining (ASX:AJM) shares over the past year.

Last month investment bank Macquarie put a dampener on the idea, saying the lithium market was “sleepwalking into a tsunami of oversupply” with a bunch of new projects coming online.

That’s added increased pressure on lithium stocks this year.

Plans to double production

Located 90km south-east of Port Hedland, the Altura mine will produce about 220,000 tonnes each year of lithium spodumene concentrate.

Spodumene is the main lithium bearing mineral mined from most hard rock lithium mines around the world.

Altura is now considering plans to double production to 440,000 tonnes per annum to tap into the global demand for electric vehicle and static storage batteries.

Mines Minister Bill Johnston opened the mine today, saying that the state government’s goal is to help companies like Altura develop WA’s “world-leading lithium industry”.

“We have an abundance of lithium and other battery minerals, and the McGowan government is committed to making the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity.

“By expanding further into the battery materials value chain, the State will further diversify the Western Australian economy and maximise benefits to the local community.”

Last year, WA’s lithium sales reached $780 million and the sector employed more than 1200 people.

Altura expects to make a final investment decision on the expansion of the Altura mine this year.