An Australian-Chilean joint venture company has announced plans to develop a lithium refining plant in Western Australia (WA).
WA Lithium, a 50-50 joint venture between Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile and Kidman Resources, has signed an agreement to enter into an option with the state’s LandCorp agency to lease its selected site.
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, southeast of Southern Cross.
WA mines and petroleum minister Bill Johnston (pictured) said nearly 400 jobs could 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, Johnston said.
“Western Australia is the world’s largest producer of lithium, and the announcement cements our state as an investment destination for downstream processing,” Johnston said. “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.”
Meanwhile, the state government announced it was setting aside provisional funding of AUD5.5 million ($4.1m) to the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia to support development and manufacturing of technology metals and renewable energy sources.