Prospectus promotes WA critical mineral industries

The Western Australian Government has launched a new prospectus to promote Western Australia’s battery and critical mineral industries to investors around the world.

The prospectus outlines how WA is establishing itself as a destination of choice for investment across the battery and critical minerals value chains.

WA is already a leading supplier of battery and critical minerals, acounting for half of global lithium production, and is a major exporter of nickel, cobalt, manganese and rare earths.

Major downstream processing projects are also underway with three of the world’s largest lithium producers – Tianqi Lithium (China), Albemarle (United States) and SQM (Chile) partnering with Australian companies IGO, Mineral Resources and Wesfarmers to build and operate battery-grade lithium hydroxide facilities in WA.

Since the mid-2010s, WA has attracted more than $9 billion of investment for a range of battery and critical mineral projects, including the establishment of globally significant mineral processing facilities.

Operated by some of the world’s top resources companies, these advanced processing facilities provide a strong foundation for more investment in the State’s battery and critical minerals value chain, including the manufacturing of cathode active materials.

Through the WA Recovery Plan, the State Government has committed $13.2 million to facilitate global investment in precursor cathode manufacturing in WA.

The prospectus was developed in consultation with the Future Battery and Critical Minerals Industries Ministerial Taskforce, which includes leaders from resource companies, engineering firms, industry bodies and union groups.

Western Australia’s key midstream investments

  • BHP Nickel West produced Australia’s first nickel sulphate crystals in September 2021. Located in Kwinana, the nickel sulphate plant will produce 100,000 tonnes of nickel sulphate per year when fully operational, enough to make 700,000 electric vehicle batteries each year.
  • Based at Kwinana, Tianqi Lithium Australia produced Australia’s first commercial quantities of battery-grade lithium hydroxide in May 2022.
  • Covalent Lithium has commenced early construction works at its Kwinana refinery site, with production of battery-grade lithium hydroxide forecast for 2024.
  • Ecograf is progressing development approvals for its Battery Anode Material Facility in Rockingham. In February 2022, the Australian Government provided conditional approval to loan up to $56 million to Ecograf to expand their proposed facility to 20,000 tonnes per annum.
  • In April 2022, Iluka Resources made a final investment decision to build Australia’s first fully integrated rare earths refinery in Eneabba. Construction will commence later this year, with first production earmarked for 2025.
  • Hastings Technology Metals expects to commence construction of the Yangibana Rare Earths Project in the third quarter of 2022, subject to final approvals. Production is scheduled to commence by the end of 2023. The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility has approved a $140 million loan to support Hastings in the construction of their rare earths processing facility.
  • Australian Vanadium released its Bankable Feasibility Study for its Mid-West vanadium project in April 2022. It has received a $49 million Modern Manufacturing Initiatives grant from the Australian Government for their proposed vanadium mine and processing facility.
  • In April 2022, Lynas Rare Earths commenced construction on Australia’s first rare earths processing facility in Kalgoorlie. The scheduled date to have the facility operational is July 2023.
  • In March 2022, Pure Battery Technologies, in partnership with Poseidon Nickel, secured a $119.6 million Modern Manufacturing Initiatives grant from the Australian Government for their proposed battery cathode active material refinery hub in Kalgoorlie. PBT are currently undertaking a feasibility study, feedstock characterisation, product evaluation as well as optimising infrastructure access.
  • Albemarle is constructing a lithium hydroxide processing facility in Kemerton Industrial Park. In 2022, two processing trains are undergoing commissioning activities, and will soon produce 50,000 tonnes per annum of lithium hydroxide.

 

About Ray Chan

Editor of industrial titles and mastheads with Prime Creative Media. Publications include Rail Express and Australian Mining (web content).

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