American Lithium major Albermarle and WA Premier Mark McGowan have announced on Thursday that construction has now started at the $1 billion plant in Kemerton Western Australia. The Albermarle plant is currently the largest lithium processing plant that has been approved in Australia and is set to deliver up to 100 000 tonnes of battery grade lithium hydroxide each year.
Albermarle joins other foreign companies such as Chinese owned Tianqi and South American SQM in the race to secure a piece of the world’s largest hard rock spodumene reserves in Greenbushes, Western Australia.
Hard rock spodumene is the preferred ore for lithium-ion battery producers as it is cheaper to produce and often provides a much better grade. Australia’s South West region is rich in hard rock spodumene, which has resulted in significant foreign investment in recent years.
Albemarle has a 49 percent stake in Talison Lithium, which operates the Greenbushes mine.
The project is expected to create over 1000 with production planned to start in late 2020.