Construction of new lithium refinery looks set to go ahead in Kwinana

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WESTERN Australia Lithium will proceed with plans to build a new lithium refinery in Kwinana, subject to satisfactory studies.

WA Lithium, a 50-50 joint venture between Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile and Kidman Resources, today signed an agreement to enter into an Option to Lease with LandCorp for the selected site.

Almost 400 jobs will potentially be created during the construction of the refinery, which is expected to start in mid-2019.

Additionally, the company’s lithium mine and concentrator will create about 300 jobs during construction and 150 jobs during the operational phase.

The refinery will produce about 40,000 tonnes per annum of lithium carbonate and/or lithium hydroxide from the mineral processed at the proposed mine and concentrator at Mt Holland, south-east of Southern Cross.

Premier Mark McGowan and Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston also announced the State Budget would include provisional funding of $5.5 million to the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA), to support development and manufacturing of technology metals and renewable energy sources.

MRIWA will invest the funds, if successful, in its bid to establish a New Energy Industry Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) in WA.

The New Energy Industry CRC’s objective will be to create value, through industry-led research, and drive global demand for local products, services and solutions.

“Creating and supporting jobs is my Government’s number one priority,” Mr McGowan said.

“A new lithium refinery will bring significant investment to the State and local economy, including construction and operational employment opportunities.

“The State Government will continue to support the development of renewable energy technologies, and the $5.5 million in provisional funds will be made available to the MRIWA if it is successful in the bid to establish a New Energy Industry Co-operative Research Centre in WA.”

Mr Johnston said WA was the world’s largest producer of lithium, and the announcement today cemented WA as an investment destination for downstream processing.

“Our reserves of lithium, nickel, cobalt and other metals, required for new energy technologies, combined with our technical skills and our close proximity to Asia, means WA is well-placed to capitalise on the growing battery market,” he said.

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