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Updated: Feb 19

Supply chain collaboration accelerates emission reductions in Australian Resources sector.

Electric Bus meets Aerlink ATR at Mt Holland lithium mine.
Covalent Lithium combine electric bus technology with the most low emission charter aircraft offering. Photo credit: Northfleet.

Aerlink client Covalent is working to reduce the world's dependency on fossil fuels by developing a high-purity lithium ore mine at its Mount Holland site, around 500 kilometres east of Perth, Western Australia. The company intends to mine, process, and refine the ore into battery-quality lithium hydroxide, an essential component in emerging clean and green battery-based energy storage systems.

Aerlink's ATR72-500 is a regular on the route between Perth and Mount Holland after winning the contract to fly around ten roundtrips a week to and from the site. Flying time is about one hour, and the aircraft seats 68 passengers.

There is no easy way to get to Mount Holland, but the Aerlink ATR provides one of the most fuel-efficient and environmentally responsible ways possible. The 72 is one of the lowest-emission aircraft on the market and each round trip contributes an emissions saving of almost 2,000 kg in comparison to any like aircraft. This aligns well with Covalent's clean and green ethos.

Few people link mining and aviation to good environmental practices, but the two companies are in lockstep regarding reducing their environmental footprint.

Aside from reducing the world's dependence on coal and gas, Covalent has chosen to rehabilitate a so-called brownfields site, a spot formerly used as a gold mine and left in less than stellar condition.

For Aerlink, it is about using the right sized plane for the air charter job, rather than a bigger over-spec'd aircraft that not only costs more money to operate, but also releases more CO2 emissions.

Many of Aerlink's clients are requiring FIFO and freight air charter for the mining and resources sector, and most are looking at new ways of doing business, pursuing that perfect mixture of financial and environmental sustainability. Like Aerlink, these businesses employ many people, with pay packets sustaining families and communities. They are not going to disappear, but they are trying to be the best possible corporate citizens.

Lithium ore mined at Mount Holland will eventually power millions of batteries, including those in electric vehicles. So, it's fitting that Covalent now uses an electric 57-passenger bus to transfer workers between the airport and the mine site. New arrivals can't help marvelling at this – one of the world's most modern buses, waiting by an airstrip, and surrounded by red dust.

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