G+T helps settle dispute at world’s largest hard-rock lithium mine

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Gilbert + Tobin (G+T) has helped settle a years-long dispute at the world’s largest hard-rock lithium mine.

The independent firm advised Talison Lithium Australia, which has agreed with Global Advanced Metals Greenbushes (GAM) on a revised commercial arrangement for the operation of the Greenbushes mine.

Talison had announced that it will invest more than $800m to expand Greenbushes to meet rising global demand for batteries. GAM turned to the courts early last year to halt the expansion of the Greenbushes mine, concerned that an upgrade will sterilise the mine’s production of tantalum, which it owns the rights to.

For years, Talison recovered tantalum for GAM through a tantalum-recovery circuit as part of the extraction process of lithium from the ore body. As part of the settlement, the process will include a new tantalum-recovery circuit in the new chemical-grade lithium processing plant that is under construction.

G+T said that while the terms of the settlement remain confidential, the settlement will not impact Talison’s plans to expand the production at the mine. G+T advised on the litigation and the strategic aspects of the dispute, as well as negotiated and drafted the revised commercial arrangements that were part of the settlement.

The expansion of the mine will ensure enough spodumene, the ore from which lithium is extracted, is available for the lithium-hydroxide plants being constructed in Western Australia by Talison’s shareholders, Tianqi Lithium and Albemarle. The companies, which hold a 51% and 49% stake in Talison, respectively, have reportedly committed about $1.7bn to the lithium-hydroxide facilities in the state.

The G+T team was headed by energy and resources partner Justin Little and disputes and investigations partner Marshall McKenna. They were supported by senior associates Patrick Tydde and Guy Greer, and lawyers Arabella Tole, Pearl Martin, Jamie Ammendolea, and Amelia Arndt.

“While we were always confident in our assessment of Talison’s legal position, there was a lot riding on it for both the expansion of the Greenbushes mine and the development of the downstream hydroxide plants here in Western Australia. Ultimately, it’s a great outcome for Talison, its shareholders and all other stakeholders in the project,” Little said.