Consider rail freight for lithium

Hon. Diane Evers MLC (left) with the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance’s Jane Fuchsbichler.

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The deactivated Bunbury-Greenbushes rail line could be reopened to convey lithium from the Greenbushes mine.

Greens (WA) MLC Diane Evers had earlier this week called on the Government to consider using the line for lithium transport to reduce the road burden in the region.

On being questioned by Ms Evers in Parliament yesterday, Minister for Environment Stephen Dawson said the possibility was currently being negotiated between Talison (Tianqi), which owns the lithium mine, and Arc Infrastructure, which leases the rail line.

He said the discussions could result in the Bunbury-Greenbushes “returning to operating condition”.

Welcoming the news, Ms Evers said mining activity in the South-West was set to increase as many of the minerals needed for the technology sector, including lithium, are found in the region.

“Without rail freight, truck movements on the Highway all the way to Kwinana will increase sharply, contributing to wear and tear as well as greater safety risks,” she said.

“The mining activity, which would create thousands of new jobs, would bring families and associated businesses to the region, which would add pressure on the roads.”

The Bunbury-Greenbushes line has been deactivated for almost two decades, with the former Liberal Government claiming the cost of reopening the line would be prohibitive.

But Ms Evers said the gains from the burgeoning lithium industry could make it feasible.

“When current minister Mick Murray was in Opposition, he said the rail option should be explored,” she said.

“And we hope Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan will also be supportive, given her previous role as a minister for transport and infrastructure.”

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