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EPA Approves Albemarle Lithium Plant

The Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recently approved the development of the Albemarle Kemerton Plant outside Bunbury.

EPA chair Dr. Tom Hatton said that the proposal could proceed, subject to certain conditions.

“Following a comprehensive environmental assessment process, we concluded this manufacturing plant proposal could proceed, subject to a flora and vegetation monitoring and management plan to minimize the potential impact on threatened flora and fauna, most notably Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo, Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo and Baudin’s Black Cockatoo,” said Dr. Hatton.

Dr. Hatton added that the EPA requires Albemarle to develop a water management plan to maintain the quality and quantity of off-site surface and groundwater. They also require an offset strategy and greenhouse gas reporting.

The plant will produce up to 100,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide monohydrate from five 20,000 tonnes process trains and reach up to 1.1 million tonnes of tailings per year.

Albemarle will construct the plant in stages. They will begin constructing the first processing train in 2018 and plan to complete it by 2020. They will also complete the construction of supporting infrastructure and services in the same timeframe.

The factory will reach full operating capacity around 2025. The starting capacity of the plant will be a single train operating at 20,000 tonnes per annum.

Albemarle will process spodumene ore concentrate from the Greenbushes lithium-tantalum mine. It co-owns the Greenbushes mine with Tianqi Lithium Australia. It is the largest source of spodumene ore concentrate in the southern hemisphere.

The plant will be located in the Kemerton Strategic Industrial Area. It will have a maximum disturbance footprint of 89.25 hectares during construction. A service corridor connected to Marriott Road will provide access to electricity, natural gas, water, and telecommunications.

The EPA report is open for public appeal until June 29, after which Western Australia’s minister for environment Stephen Dawson will make a final decision.

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