The Government of Western Australia (WA) has given environmental approval to US-based chemical manufacturer Albemarle for its Kemerton lithium hydroxide manufacturing plant.
Set to be established in the Kemerton strategic industrial area near Bunbury, the project is expected to generate more than 1,000 jobs during construction and operation.
The plant will be fed by spodumene ore concentrate from Talison Lithium’s Greenbushes mine. Talison is a joint venture between the US company and Chinese firm Tianqi Lithium, which includes two processing plants.
Albemarle owns a 49% interest in the JV, while Tianqi holds the majority share.
In July this year, Tianqi approved a $382m expansion of the Greenbushes mine to cater to growing demand for lithium, which is used as an ingredient in batteries designed for electric vehicles and phones.
Albemarle will process the ore at the plant, which will have five 20,000tpa processing trains, to produce up to 100,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide product. The company is yet to make a final investment decision on the plant.
Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said: “The Albemarle lithium plant is another step closer to setting up its operations which will generate hundreds of local jobs.
“I’m pleased to see this project progressing, following my positive discussions with Albemarle’s directors during my visit to Washington earlier this year.”
In May this year, the government established a taskforce to oversee its new lithium and energy materials strategy that is aimed at tapping the state’s potential in the sector.
Tianqi is also developing a A$700m ($509.48m) lithium hydroxide plant in Kwinana.