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Albemarle expands WA lithium hydroxide capacity

3rd May 2023

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia


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PERTH ( – Critical minerals major Albemarle Corporation has announced it would build two additional processing trains at the Kemerton lithium hydroxide plant in Western Australia.

The additional trains will be wholly owned and operated by Albemarle and will increase the facility’s production by 50 000 t/y. Operating at full capacity, the Kemerton plant will produce up to 100 000 t/y of lithium hydroxide, supporting the manufacturing of an estimated 2.4-million electric vehicles annually.

This investment, combined with the existing two trains at Kemerton owned by Albemarle’s MARBL joint venture, represents the biggest investment by any company in downstream processing of lithium in Australia and will make Albemarle the largest producer of lithium in Australia.

It is estimated the capital expenditure for trains three and four will be more than $1-billion building on the capital expenditure for trains one and two, which was also more than $1-billion.

Once completed, the expansion will make the plant the biggest and most advanced lithium hydroxide processing facility outside of China.

“Australia is essential to the global supply chain for energy storage and an important part of our diverse portfolio,” said Albemarle CEO Kent Masters.

“Our decision to expand was driven by our confidence in future demand and allows us to offer customers additional supply from Greenbushes, well known as one of the world’s best lithium mines.”

Albemarle country manager Beverley East said Albemarle had created a specialised manufacturing industry in the southwest of Western Australia and would continue to deliver local economic benefits including jobs and business opportunities for decades.

“Albemarle is already a significant employer in the region with more than 480 operational staff currently and about 370 more employees needed to operate the expanded project by 2026,” said East.

“Our construction workforce for the expansion project is predicted to be about 1 000 workers, with our preference being to recruit locally for construction and operations as much as we can.”

The Western Australian government has welcomed the expansion plans, with Premier Mark McGowan lauding Albemarle’s lithium hydroxide plant as one of the best examples of what Western Australia had to offer the world when it came to battery and critical mineral supply chains.

"The expansion of the plant is great news for the region, the state and Australia. For years to come, Albemarle's lithium hydroxide plant will support local jobs, grow advanced manufacturing in the South-West and deliver economic benefits for the whole state."

Construction is expected to begin immediately, with the first product from the expansion expected in 2026.

The expansion at Kemerton is part of Albemarle's larger presence in Western Australia, which includes various interests and stakes in spodumene resources at Greenbushes and Wodgina.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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