Lithium plant gets green light

Sam GibbsSouth Western Times
Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke and Bunbury MLA Don Punch at Kemerton Industrial Park.
Camera IconMurray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke and Bunbury MLA Don Punch at Kemerton Industrial Park. Credit: South Western Times/Bunbury Herald, Jon Gellweiler

The proposed $1 billion lithium plant at Kemerton has cleared the final hurdle after the Joint Development Assessment Panel approved the project yesterday.

The decision to approve Albemarle’s processing plant was unanimous among the five voting members on the panel, which includes Harvey shire president Tania Jackson.

Albemarle will need 500 workers when it builds the plant in the Kemerton Industrial Park and will create a further 500 jobs when it is up and running.

Cr Jackson said the final tick of approval was a milestone achievement for Albemarle and the region.

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“There is a lot of support for this project, it just needed to meet the environmental and planning requirements to ensure it is done in the best possible way,” Cr Jackson said.

“The environmental approval should give some level of comfort to community members concerned about the environmental impact of the project.”

The proposed plant received environmental approval on November 9 and was considered the major hurdle in getting the project off the ground.

After the environmental approval was announced, Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke said most of the jobs created by the project would be sourced locally.

“The plant will inject millions into the local economy, which is great for communities in Murray-Wellington such as Australind, Brunswick, Cookernup, Harvey and Yarloop,” Ms Clarke said.

Bunbury MLA Don Punch said Albemarle had indicated its intention to build the world’s biggest lithium processing plant in Kemerton, which would be a transformational project for the region.

“These approvals open the door for an exciting future for the Greater Bunbury Region that will place us firmly on the world stage in terms of resource processing and energy storage possibilities,” Mr Punch said.

Lithium hydroxide is a critical ingredient in the lithium-ion batteries which power, among other things, electric vehicles.

It is made from spodumene ore concentrate, which Albemarle mines at the sprawling Greenbushes mine.

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