Sunday 11th Apr, 2021

Construction begins on largest lithium processing plant in WA

Eight Queensland resource projects will now be prohibited from employing a fully fly-fin fly-out (FIFO) workforce, in order to support local jobs.

Earthworks are underway on a lithium processing plant in Western Australia that will create hundreds of jobs and provide benefits to thousands of local businesses, according to Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham.

The lithium processing plant at Kemerton is expected to be the largest lithium plant in WA once construction is complete, with an initial capacity of 60,000 metric tonnes of lithium hydroxides which will expand to 100,000 metric tonnes over time.

Owned by US company Albemarle, the $1 billion development is expected to create 500 construction jobs and another 500 permanent positions when operational.

Albermale received environmental approvals form the federal and state governments for the Kemerton plant in 2018 and will source its spodumene ore feed from the Talison Lithium Greenbushes mine.

“We know there is growing demand for lithium around the world and also locally, particularly in areas such as energy storage and this presents huge future opportunities for Australia’s lithium industry,” Birmingham said.

“We’re the world’s largest lithium producer and there is significant potential to grow investment in infrastructure at various stages within the value chain such as lithium processing.”

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Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matthew Canavan said the Federal Government was focused on supporting development of the lithium sector.

“Our Resources 2030 Taskforce report highlights the importance of developing new strategies to develop competitive downstream industries, including value-adding for prospective battery and critical-minerals industries,” Canavan said.

“It is a roadmap for how we can put Australia in the best position to make the most of investments in the lithium supply chain and today’s announcement is another step on that journey.

“This is a huge opportunity for us. With the right policies we can advance our industry further up the value chain to become the world’s leading supplier of high-grade lithium components — creating new jobs and opportunities for Australians.”

Senator for WA Linda Reynolds said the renewable energy storage industry offers the most exciting new resources opportunity for WA in over 50 years, with WA producing 62 per cent of the world’s lithium.

“The Federal Government has embraced the opportunity lithium provides for our economy and I welcome the construction of the Kemerton processing plant in WA,” she said.