Metso has secured a contract to supply processing kit for a new lithium hydroxide processing plant at Albemarle Corporation’s Kemerton site near Bunbury in South Western Australia.

Albemarle started construction work on the A$1bn ($709.4m) lithium hydroxide processing plant in Kemerton last month. Production at the plant is scheduled to commence in 2021.

Initially, the plant will comprise three production trains. Each train will produce 20,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of lithium hydroxide.

There is a potential to expand to five trains when the production will increase to 100,000tpa by around 2025.

Metso Australian market area senior vice-president Ross Wotherspoon said: “We are very pleased to be playing such an important role in Albemarle’s plans as it races to supply booming world demand for battery-quality lithium chemicals.

“Critical to the success of this project is the combined knowledge and experience of our people and Australian-based suppliers and subcontractors who are engaged to deliver major components of this important contract.”

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Greenbushes mine will provide lithium concentrate for the plant.

As part of the contract, Metso will supply pyro-processing and comminution equipment that includes calciner and acid roaster systems, ball mills, off-gas handling systems in addition to other auxiliaries.

“Critical to the success of this project is the combined knowledge and experience of our people and Australian-based suppliers and subcontractors.”

Equipment deliveries are expected to begin in the second half of this year.

Metso Mining Equipment business president Victor Tapia said: “Lithium projects are on the increase, and at Metso we have diversified our solutions and services to meet this growing demand.”

Once operational, the Albemarle Kemerton Plant is expected to produce up to 100,000tpa of premium battery grade lithium hydroxide.