Lithium plant gets ap­proval

Harvey-Waroona Reporter - - FRONT PAGE - Sam Gibbs

Murray-Welling­ton MLA Robyn Clarke has wel­comed the po­ten­tial for 1000 new jobs in the South West af­ter plans for a mas­sive pro­cess­ing plant in Ke­mer­ton was given en­vi­ron­men­tal ap­proval.

Albe­marle Cor­po­ra­tion will need 500 work­ers when it builds the $1 bil­lion lithium plant in the Ke­mer­ton in­dus­trial area. A fur­ther 500 jobs will be cre­ated when the plant starts pro­duc­ing the 100,000 tonnes of lithium hy­drox­ide its five pro­cess­ing trains are be­ing de­signed to han­dle each year.

Murray-Welling­ton MLA Robyn Clarke said most of the jobs would be sourced lo­cally.

“I would en­cour­age lo­cals to keep an eye on me­dia ... Albe­marle will be do­ing jobs road shows for re­cruit­ing,” Ms Clarke said.

Bun­bury MLA Don Punch said the ap­provals opened the door for the Greater Bun­bury Re­gion to be placed on the world stage in terms of re­source pro­cess­ing and en­ergy stor­age pos­si­bil­i­ties.

“Albe­marle has in­di­cated its in­ten­tion to build the world’s big­gest lithium pro­cess­ing plant in Ke­mer­ton and, while there are still pieces of the jig­saw to fall in place for the project to pro­ceed, it stands to be a trans­for­ma­tional project for our re­gion,” Mr Punch said.

Har­vey shire pres­i­dent Ta­nia Jack­son said the project still needed ap­proval from the Joint De­vel­op­ment Assess­ment Panel which will meet to­mor­row.

Lithium hy­drox­ide is a crit­i­cal in­gre­di­ent in the lithium-ion bat­ter­ies which power, among other things, elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

It is made from spo­dumene ore con­cen­trate, which Albe­marle mines at the sprawl­ing Green­bushes mine.

Clear­ing the last en­vi­ron­men­tal hurdle is a win for the State Govern­ment, which has es­tab­lished a lithium and en­ergy ma­te­ri­als in­dus­try task­force to cap­i­talise on WA’s po­si­tion as the source of more than half the world’s lithium.

“The Albe­marle lithium plant is an­other step closer to set­ting up its op­er­a­tions, which will gen­er­ate hun­dreds of lo­cal jobs,” Premier Mark McGo- wan said. “I’m pleased to see this project pro­gress­ing, fol­low­ing my pos­i­tive dis­cus­sions with Albe­marle’s di­rec­tors dur­ing my visit to Wash­ing­ton this year.”

Min­ing lobby group AMEC has pre­dicted the global trade in lithium bat­ter­ies will soar from $165 bil­lion to $2 tril­lion over the next eight years.

WA En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Stephen Daw­son said the En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Au­thor­ity at­tached con­di­tions to its ap­proval.

Albe­marle, which is listed on the New York Stock Ex­change, is wait­ing on a hand­ful of Fed­eral ap­provals be­fore it can make a fi­nal in­vest­ment de­ci­sion, which ob­servers say is a for­mal­ity be­cause the plant is con­sid­ered a top pri­or­ity.

Albe­marle’s joint venture part­ner at Green­bushes, China’s Tianqi Lithium, is build­ing a $700 mil­lion pro­cess­ing plant at Kwinana.

Pic­ture: Jon Gell­weiler

Murray-Welling­ton MLA Robyn Clarke and Bun­bury MLA Don Punch at the en­trance of Ke­mer­ton Strate­gic In­dus­trial Park af­ter a pro­posed lithium man­u­fac­tur­ing plant was given the en­vi­ron­men­tal green light.

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