New lithium plant on the cards for Kwinana

China’s Sichuan Tianqi Lithium Industries plans to develop a $400 million lithium plant in Kwinana, Western Australia.

The company already owns a majority stake in the Greenbushes operation, one of the world’s largest lithium concentrate producers.

The plant’s development plans will be presented before a State Government development assessment panel tomorrow, The West reports, with the Tianqi board understood to make a final decision on the site next week.

If given the green light, construction could begin within a month, with the company hoping to commence production by 2018.

The potential project is expected to produce 24,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per annum – a key ingredient in rechargeable batteries – and be supplied by nearly 161,000 tonnes of lithium concentrate trucked from Greenbushes.

It is will also produce by-products, including 176,000 tonnes of aluminosilicate and 26,000 tonnes of gypsum for use in the construction and agricultural industries, as well as 44,000 tonnes of sodium sulphate per year for export.

Earlier this year Galaxy Resources and General Mining, part owners of the previously mothballed Mt Cattlin lithium mine, held talks to finalise a $700 million merger. The merger is expected to see Galaxy acquire GM and overtake current lithium leader Pilbara Metals and its Pilgangoora lithium-tantalite mine.

They entered an agreement to restart operations last year, with an expected output of 800,000 tonnes per annum. It is slated to begin exporting later this year.