MinRes, Albemarle to restart Wodgina as lithium lifts


Wodgina beneficiation plant. Image: Mineral Resources

The MARBL lithium joint venture has decided to restart the Wodgina lithium mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, with production planned for the September quarter of 2022.

MARBL is a 40/60 joint venture between Mineral Resources and Albemarle Corporation which formed in November 2019 to develop Wodgina and to operate the Kemerton lithium hydroxide conversion assets.

Upon Mineral Resources’ sale of 60 per cent of Wodgina to Albemarle, the mine was placed on care and maintenance as the companies awaited stronger lithium prices to maximise the mine’s value.

Mineral Resources managing director Chris Ellison said he was pleased with how his company had handled Wodgina in partnership with Albemarle.

“We are delighted that the MARBL JV (joint venture) has decided to restart Wodgina, a world-class lithium opportunity that MRL (Mineral Resources) developed into a mine with world-class potential,” Ellison said.

“It was the correct decision in late 2019 to place Wodgina on care and maintenance though it never dented our confidence in lithium’s long-term positive demand fundamentals.

“As said at the time and repeat today, in Albemarle we have the best partner to deliver maximum and sustainable value from world-class assets like Wodgina.”

The operation has installed processing capacity of 750,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of spodumene concentrate, made up of three 250,000tpa processing lines.

These lines will be restarted one by one, in line with increasing market demand for spodumene concentrate.

The initial ramp up to operation will create about 200 full-time jobs across the operation.

Wodgina already has its own 64-megawatt gas-fired power plant, a 700-bed accommodation village, and an airfield which caters up to A320 aircraft.

Ellison said Wodgina was an important cog in Mineral Resources’ strategy as lithium grows in popularity and necessity.

“Lithium is one of MRLs two core commodities, alongside iron ore, and we have worked very hard over the past five years to establish long life operations for both,” he said.

“Wodgina, along with our 50 per cent owned Mt Marion lithium project in WA’s Goldfields and the soon-to-be-completed 40 per cent owned Kemerton hydroxide facility, give MRL a world-class portfolio of highest-quality long-life assets in a tier 1 mining jurisdiction.”

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.