Albemarle Corp has entered the new year by launching construction of its Kemerton lithium hydroxide conversion site in Western Australia.
Site earthworks at Kemerton have started in line with the United States lithium giant’s projections of commissioning, which will be rolled out in several stages during the course of 2021.
Albemarle said in November it expected the $1 billion development to create over 500 construction jobs and another 500 permanent positions when operational.
The Kemerton facility will be the largest lithium plant in Western Australia once construction is complete.
Albemarle president Eric Norris said achieving this milestone underscored the company’s commitment and confidence in developing lithium hydroxide operations in Western Australia, and an overall strategy “to drive significant shareholder value and meet our customers’ demands.”
The plant will source its spodumene ore feed from the Talison Lithium Greenbushes mine, where Albemarle is a joint venture partner with China’s Tianqi Lithium.
Ore concentrate from Greenbushes will be processed at Kemerton in an initial capacity of 60,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide, expanding to 100,000 metric tons over time.
Albemarle received the required environmental approvals from the federal and state government for the Kemerton plant during 2018.
Talison Lithium last year announced a $512 million expansion of the Greenbushes mine to deliver an extra 520,000 tonnes per year of lithium concentrate.