The new Covalent lithium refinery will have the capacity to produce batteries for up to one million electric vehicles per annum


Pieces of Lithium metal from the Dennis s.k collection. (Credit: Dnn87/Wikipedia.)

Lithium developer Covalent Lithium has entered into a long-term lease for 40ha site in Kwinana Strategic Industrial Area (SIA) to build a new lithium refinery.

Covalent is a joint venture between affiliates of Wesfarmers and Chile-based chemical company Sociedad Química y Minera (SQM).

The new lithium refinery involves construction and operation of a spodumene mine and concentrator near Mount Holland in Western Australia.

It is expected to create 1,000 jobs during construction and 350 jobs in operations.

Upon completion, the Kwinana refinery is expected to have the capacity to support the production of batteries for up to one million electric vehicles per annum.

Western Australia State Development, Jobs and Trade Minister Roger Cook said: “The Kwinana SIA plays a vital role in supporting Western Australia’s economy as it is a key part of the State’s premier heavy industrial corridor.

“The Kwinana SIA is already home to major chemical, energy and resource-based processing operations.

“The investment by Covalent Lithium reinforces the importance of the Government’s commitment to establishing a globally advanced manufacturing hub for the industrial corridor between Henderson and Rockingham.”

Kwinana SIA is a hub for chemical and resource-based processing industries, located in Western Australia’s premier industrial corridor, 15kms south of Fremantle Port.

Covalent said that its new lithium refinery will become one of the three lithium refineries currently under construction in Western Australia.

The facilities would value-adding activities, including pre-cursor cathode manufacturing which is a key priority of the WA Government’s Future Battery Industry Strategy.

Covalent has received environmental approval from the Western Australian government for a refinery related to the A$1.8bn ($1.33bn) Mt Holland lithium project.

The Ministerial Statement under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA) lays out conditions for the construction and operation of the project’s lithium hydroxide refinery.

First production of lithium hydroxide from the Mt Holland lithium project is expected in the second half of 2024.

Western Australia Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said: “Kwinana is already a thriving hub of activity, with the precinct home to Alcoa, CSBP, Wesfarmers LPG, Tianqi Lithium Australia and Avertas Kwinana Waste to Energy plant.

“The announcement today delivers on the McGowan Government’s vision to grow its share of the battery materials supply chain, create jobs and diversify our economy, which falls under our Future Battery Industry Strategy.”