Mining & Minerals
Mining and minerals form the region's largest industry sector. Coal, alumina and mineral sands are the largest contributors.
Mining in the region includes the extraction of coal, mineral sands, spodumene (a lithium-containing mineral), tantalum and tin.
Minerals processing is the production of alumina from bauxite and synthetic rutile from ilmenite, and minerals manufacturing includes the production of titanium dioxide pigment and silicon.
The South West produces all of Western Australia's coal supplies. There are two coal producers mining in the Collie area, Premier Coal and Griffin Coal/Lanco.
Verve Energy uses the majority of coal for electricity generation, with the remainder used by industry in the production of alumina, mineral sands, cement and nickel.
The mineral sands industry is an integrated mining, processing and manufacturing sector, with three principal areas of operation:
- mining and separation of ilmenite, zircon, natural rutile and monazite;
- secondary processing of minerals to upgraded ilmenite (synthetic rutile) and refined zircon products; and
- the manufacture of titanium dioxide pigment.
Mineral sands extracted are largely titanium based and include ilmenite, upgraded ilmenite (or synthetic rutile), leucoxene and rutile. Zircon is also recovered as a co-product from titanium mining operations.
Titanium dioxide pigment, used in the production of paints, plastics, paper, rubber, printing inks, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals is manufactured at Kemerton Industrial Park, 17 kilometres north-east of Bunbury.
BHP Worsley Alumina processes bauxite, mined in Boddington and transported by conveyor belt to the refinery near Collie, into alumina. The company has its own wharf ship loading facilities, ancillary conveyor belts and tanks at the Bunbury Port.
Just outside the South West region is Alcoa's Wagerup Refinery. Together the two refineries form one of the world's largest alumina producing hubs.
Spodumene, tin and tantalum
A significant portion of world demand for spodumene is met from the Greenbushes minesite. Spodumene is used as feedstock for the production of lithium carbonate and various other lithium chemical products. The Greenbushes mine has the world's largest tantalum deposit.
Silica sands are mined on the outskirts of Kemerton Industrial Park. The sand is mostly produced for the glass industry.
High-grade silicon is manufactured at Kemerton Industrial Park using a high temperature smelting process. Silicon is used in the production of aluminium alloys, silicones and solar grade silicon wafers.
Go to our Projects section for more information on resources projects.
Go to our Statistics section for more information on mining and commodity values.