US-based Albemarle has announced its decision to expand the Kemerton lithium hydroxide plant in Western Australia by building two additional processing trains.

The construction of trains three and four at the Kemerton plant will entail an investment of over $1bn.

With the additional trains, the production capacity of the lithium hydroxide facility is expected to increase by 50,000 metric tonnes per annum (mtpa).

Once operating at its full capacity, the Kemerton lithium hydroxide plant is anticipated to generate up to 100,000mtpa of lithium hydroxide.

It is estimated to facilitate the manufacturing of nearly 2.4 million electric vehicles (EV) per annum.

The additional trains will be fully owned and operated by the speciality chemicals manufacturer.

Albemarle CEO Kent Masters said: “Australia is essential to the global supply chain for energy storage and an important part of our diverse portfolio.

“Our decision to expand was driven by our confidence in future demand and allows us to offer customers additional supply from Greenbushes, well known as one of the world’s best lithium mines.”

Located in the Kemerton Industrial Park, 160km south of Perth, the lithium hydroxide facility is fed by spodumene concentrate from the nearby Greenbushes mine.

The Kemerton plant is part of the MARBL joint venture (JV), which is owned by Albemarle and Mineral Resources with stakes of 60% and 40%, respectively. The first two trains at the Kemerton lithium hydroxide plant are owned by the JV.

Construction of the expansion project is anticipated to commence soon, with the first product from the expansion expected in 2026.

Around 1,000 people are anticipated to be employed during the peak of construction.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said: “Albemarle’s lithium hydroxide plant in Kemerton is one of the best examples of what WA has to offer the world when it comes to battery and critical mineral supply chains.

“The expansion of the plant is great news for the region, the State and Australia.

“For years to come, Albemarle’s lithium hydroxide plant will support local jobs, grow advanced manufacturing in the South-West and deliver economic benefits for the whole State.”