15/06/2018 - 13:54

EPA backs Albemarle lithium refinery

15/06/2018 - 13:54

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The environmental watchdog has recommended conditional approval to US-based Albemarle Corporation’s proposed 100,000 tonnes per annum lithium refinery near Bunbury.

Tianqi is building a $700 million refinery in Kwinana. Photo: MSP Engineering

The environmental watchdog has recommended conditional approval to US-based Albemarle Corporation’s proposed 100,000 tonnes per annum lithium refinery near Bunbury.

The Environmental Protection Authority gave the project a green light, subject to flora and vegetation monitoring to minimise impact on local flora and fauna.

Under the proposal, the Kemerton plant would be located on a 90-hectare plot of land and aims to process lithium hydroxide through five 20,000tpa process trains.

If built, the refinery is expected to have an initial capacity of 40,000tpa, but is designed to allow for expansion to 100,000tpa.

The plant will also have capacity for 200,000tpa of sodium sulfate by-product.

“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 minimise the potential impact on threatened flora and fauna, most notably Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo, Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo and Baudin’s Black Cockatoo,” EPA chair Tom Hatton said.

“Albemarle will also be required to develop a water management plan, to ensure quality and quantity of offsite surface and groundwater is maintained throughout construction and operation of the plant, as well as an offset strategy and greenhouse gas reporting.”

The EPA’s report is open for a two-week public appeal period, with Environment Minister Stephen Dawson making the final decision on the proposal.

Chinese company Tianqi Lithium is in the midst of building Western Australia’s first lithium refinery in Kwinana, with four other facilities planned across the state.

 

 

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