Lithium plant ex­pan­sion a pos­i­tive ‘sig­nal’ for in­dus­try

Southern Telegraph - - Telegraph News - Ai­den Boy­ham

A $317 mil­lion dol­lar ex­pan­sion of Tianqi Lithium’s pro­posed pro­cess­ing plant in Kwinana has been wel­comed by lo­cal in­dus­try af­ter the Chi­nese com­pany gave the nod for a $21 mil­lion fea­si­bil­ity study and pre-in­vest­ment last Tues­day.

The pro­posed ex­pan­sion, which would dou­ble the Kwinana plant’s ca­pac­ity to 48,000 tonnes per an­num, co­in­cided with a 1.34 mil­lion tonnes per an­num ex­pan­sion of Tianqi’s 51 per cent-owned Tal­i­son mine at Green­bushes, which is set to pro­vide feed­stock for the ex­panded Kwinana plant as well as the com­pany’s two other plants in China.

Kwinana In­dus­tries Coun­cil di­rec­tor Chris Oughton said it was great news that Tianqi was look­ing to press ahead with its sec­ond stage, well ahead of when it was orig­i­nally planned to start.

“Aside from the fab­ri­ca­tion and con­struc­tion ben­e­fits that will flow to that sec­tor lo­cally, the main ben­e­fit I see is the sig­nal it sends to the lithium sec­tor and more broadly to the in­dus­trial sec­tor,” Mr Oughton said.

“That mes­sage is that the (Kwinana) in­dus­trial area is a good place for in­dus­trial busi­nesses to set up.” The fea­si­bil­ity study for the ex­pan­sion is ex­pected to be fin­ished in Oc­to­ber, with the fi­nal in­vest­ment de­ci­sion to fol­low.

Mr Oughton said while the ex­pan­sion of the plant on its own wouldn’t hugely boost the Kwinana econ­omy, the com­pany’s con­tri­bu­tion to in­cre­men­tal growth in the in­dus­trial area was sig­nif­i­cant.

“Growth of the in­dus­trial area in it­self gen­er­ates fur­ther in­ter­est, and that can trans­late into mo­men­tum,” Mr Oughton said.

“We’re see­ing quite a bit of in­ter­est from po­ten­tial in­com­ing in­dus­tries at the mo­ment . . . I ex­pect that as news of the Gov­ern­ment’s outer har­bour in­ten­tions spread, there will be a flurry of ac­tiv­ity by in­dus­trial com­pa­nies want­ing to get land near the new port.

“When that hap­pens we’ll re­ally see mo­men­tum hap­pen­ing.”

Tianqi Lithium pro­cess­ing plant in Kwinana.

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