Site Works Start On WA Lithium Hydroxide Plant

Lithium mining in Western Australia

Image: Talison Lithium

U.S. headquartered Albemarle Corporation has commenced site works associated with the construction of a lithium hydroxide manufacturing plant in the Kemerton Strategic Industrial Area, Western Australia.

The plant is to be constructed on an 89 hectare site and will process spodumene ore concentrate sourced from the Talison Lithium Greenbushes operations, which is adjacent to the town of Greenbushes in WA.

Lithium hydroxide is increasingly being used in the production of batteries for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage applications such as solar batteries. For battery applications, it needs to be of very high purity (99%). At lower purities, it is mainly used in the production of lithium grease; but also has applications in ceramics and some types of cement.

Albemarle says the Kemerton plant will have an initial capacity of 60,000  tonnes of lithium hydroxide production annually, with an ability to expand to 100,000 tonnes. It’s expected commissioning of the Kemerton site will occur during 2021, and in stages.

The McGowan Government welcomed the start of work at the site.

“I am pleased that the State Government could facilitate the necessary approvals to allow Albemarle to begin bulk earthworks at the Kemerton site,” said WA Acting Premier Roger Cook last week. “The commencement of construction by Albemarle demonstrates the benefits presented to the South-West and the State by the Government’s investment in Kemerton.”

Established in 1985, Kemerton Strategic Industrial Area is located 17km north east of Bunbury and covers an area exceeding 2,000 hectares.

Lot Of Lithium Goings-On In WA

While it may not be quite the mining boom seen in the past, the world’s burgeoning EV and solar battery industry is helping to provide a brighter future for WA – and the state’s lithium deposits are playing a significant role in that.

Last month, Albemarle announced the signing of deal with Mineral Resources Limited for an Albemarle subsidiary to acquire a 50 percent interest in MRL’s Wodgina hard rock lithium project. It would also see a joint venture formed with MRL to own and operate the Wodgina Project to produce spodumene concentrate as feedstock for a battery-grade lithium hydroxide plant to be constructed at Wodgina in two stages.

There doesn’t appear to be any shortage of interest in Australia’s lithium from outside the USA either. For example, last month we reported Kidman Resources Limited entered into a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with battery giant LG Chem for the supply of lithium hydroxide from its Mt Holland Lithium Project – 12,000 tonnes annually over 10 years. This followed supply deals earlier in the year with Tesla and Mitsui.

At least seven lithium mines are now operating in the state. Lithium mines in WA employed 400 people just a few years ago and approximately 2,600 now.

According to a report published in October last year, Australia is currently the largest producer of lithium, in a market that is expected to jump six-fold out to 2027 as global demand for EV batteries grows.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Ray Tinkler says

    All we need now is a Govt that wants to develop the battery manufacturing here in this country, instead of continuously flogging off our resources to others to make the money out of, that only makes a few “locals” rich.

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