The Western Australian government has given environmental approval to Albemarle’s Kemerton lithium plant, which is proposed to be built with an investment of more than A$1bn ($724.65m) near Bunbury.


Image: Kemerton lithium plant given environmental approval by Western Australia. Photo: courtesy of Dnn87/

The Kemerton lithium plant, to be located in the Kemerton Strategic Industrial Area, will be used for processing spodumene ore concentrate procured from the Talison Lithium’s Greenbushes mine.

The processing of the ore concentrate from the mine will be carried out using five process trains at the Kemerton lithium plant, which will have a production capacity of up to 100,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide product.

The five trains, which will each have capacity of 20,000 tonnes per annum, will produce up to 1,100,000 tonnes per annum of tailings.

Construction of the trains will be carried out over the next 10 years with construction of the first trains slated to begin this year, as per an application filed by Albemarle with the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

The environmental approval from the Western Australian government for the Kemerton lithium plant comes following a recommendation for the same issued by the EPA in mid-June 2018, subject to implantation of a flora and vegetation monitoring and management plan by Albemarle.

Western Australia Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said: “Albemarle is another example of the McGowan Government achieving a balance between an acceptable environmental outcome and a prospering economy.

“The Albemarle lithium plant has undergone a thorough environmental assessment process by the Environment Protection Authority, which recommended the project could proceed subject to strict environmental conditions.”

In March 2018, Talison Lithium revealed its plans to expand supply from the Greenbushes mine, located 90km south-east of the Port of Bunbury, to meet the demand of the rapidly growing global lithium market. The US-based Albemarle holds a stake of 49% in the Australian spodumene producer.

According to the Western Australian government, the Kemerton lithium facility upon its construction will be the second, and largest, lithium hydroxide manufacturing plant to invest in the Australian state in two years.

The lithium manufacturing plant to come up in south-west part of Western Australia will create over 500 construction jobs and up to 500 permanent jobs for its operations.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said: “I’m pleased to see this project progressing, following my positive discussions with Albemarle’s directors during my visit to Washington earlier this year.

“The State is a world-leading producer of lithium and WA has an abundant supply of lithium and other battery minerals which is why it’s vital we maximise the opportunities this industry provides, both upstream and downstream, to Western Australians.”