Lithium plant to be world’s big­gest

Southern Telegraph - - News - Gareth McK­night

The general man­ager of an in­ter­na­tional re­sources com­pany has said he ex­pects the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s board to ap­prove a de­ci­sion to dou­ble the size of a Kwinana lithium pro­cess­ing plant soon.

Tianqi Lithium last year com­mit­ted to the $400 mil­lion con­struc­tion of a pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity in Kwinana, with stage 1 of the project ex­pected to be com­pleted in mid-2018.

How­ever, Tianqi general man­ager Phil Thick pre­sented at an event hosted by the Rock­ing­ham Kwinana Cham­ber of Com­merce and City of Rock­ing­ham last week, stat­ing that sign-off on stage 2 was ex­pected soon.

He said work to dou­ble the size of the fa­cil­ity could start im­me­di­ately after the Chi­nese com­pany’s board gave ap­proval and would cost an ex­tra $300 mil­lion.

Once com­pleted, the Kwinana fa­cil­ity will process lithium mined from the Green­bushes pit in the South West and be ex­ported from Fre­man­tle Port.

Mr Thick said that Tianqi had al­ready em­ployed 29 peo­ple and saw Kwinana as the com­pany’s fu­ture global head­quar­ters out­side of China.

“I am very pleased to say that Tianqi’s board and man­age­ment are com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing WA, par­tic­u­larly the Rock­ing­ham and Kwinana re­gion,” he said.

“We want to be a con­trib­u­tor to the com­mu­nity and hire 150 staff by next year; there will be no for­eign work­ers or 457 visa hold­ers.”

Mr Thick said there was po­ten­tial for a re­search and de­vel­op­ment cen­tre in Kwinana and the pro­cess­ing plant would op­er­ate 24/7 once com­pleted.

This could lead to pro­duc­tion of 48,000 tonnes a year, mak­ing it the big­gest lithium pro­cess­ing plant in the world.

Mr Thick said lo­cal com­pa­nies had started to ben­e­fit from the Kwinana fa­cil­ity, with the plant’s gi­ant kiln fab­ri­cated in Hen­der­son and a $40 mil­lion struc­tural con­tract awarded to a Kwinana busi­ness.

Cham­ber chief ex­ec­u­tive Tony Solin said Tianqi’s ar­rival in Kwinana would be a pos­i­tive thing for some RKCC mem­bers and ben­e­fit many in the com­mu­nity in var­i­ous ways.

“There will clearly be di­rect and in­di­rect knock-on im­pacts of Tianqi’s pro­cess­ing plant op­er­at­ing in Kwinana, with a di­verse range of lo­cal com­pa­nies able to ten­der to pro­vide ser­vices,” he said.

“We have had great feed­back after Phil’s pre­sen­ta­tion and our mem­bers are de­lighted to wel­come Tianqi to the Rock­ing­ham and Kwinana busi­ness com­mu­nity.”

The cities of Rock­ing­ham and Kwinana said the es­tab­lish­ment of the pro­cess­ing plant was pos­i­tive for the lo­cal econ­omy and jobs.

Pic­tures: Gareth McK­night

Tianqi Lithium general man­ager Phil Thick.

At­ten­dees at the busi­ness break­fast hosted by the Rock­ing­ham Kwinana Cham­ber of Com­merce and the City of Rock­ing­ham last week.

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