Sods turned on Australia’s biggest lithium hydroxide facility

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Western Australia is continuing to embrace the lithium boom. State Premier Mark McGowan attended a sod turning ceremony today in Kemerton, 17km north of Bunbury on the Albemarle Kemerton Plant – which is set to become the largest lithium processing facility in Australia.

The ceremony was attended by the United States Ambassador to Australia Arthur B. Calvahouse Jr. Premier Mark McGowan pointed to a meeting he had attended with Albemarle representatives in Washington in February to discuss the project.

“With up to 1,000 local jobs being created, this project will be a huge economic boost for the South-West region and will show the capability Western Australia has in the lithium-ion battery sector,” said McGowan in a statement. 500 jobs are set to be created during construction and a further 500 once the plant is operational.

The Western Australian Government says that the state is already a leader in the production of the minerals required to supply the lithium ion battery production boom already underway. The government claims that WA is also the biggest producer of lithium globally, and claims the second, third and fourth places for rare earth, cobalt, and nickel production respectively.

The Albemarle Kemerton plant received environmental approval in June, 2018 – although it is subject to flora and vegetation monitoring and the development of a water management plan. The WA Environmental Protection Authority noted that it will be subject to greenhouse gas reporting.

The plant targets production of 100,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide from spodumene ore concentrate. Talison Lithium mines spodumene ore at its Greenbushes Lithium Operations mine 90km south of Bunbury.

As a part of its efforts to foster lithium supply, the WA State Government has created a Lithium and Energy Materials Taskforce, which is a part of its Future Battery Industry Strategy.