31/05/2021 - 15:38

EPA okays lithium refinery

31/05/2021 - 15:38

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The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended that Covalent Lithium’s planned lithium refinery at Kwinana - the third in WA - should proceed.

EPA okays lithium refinery
Matthew Tonts said the project meets the EPA's policies.

The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended that Covalent Lithium’s planned lithium refinery at Kwinana should proceed.

Its recommendation was subject to conditions relating to greenhouse gas emissions and waste management.

The proposed battery grade lithium hydroxide plant is being developed by Covalent Lithium, a joint venture between Wesfamers and Chile’s SQM.

It would be the third to be built in Western Australia.

Chinese company Tianqi Lithium has already built a similar refinery in Kwinana and is currently preparing for its commissioning, while US company Albemarle Corporation is constructing the Kemerton lithium plant north of Bunbury.

EPA chair Matthew Tonts said Covalent had identified several measures to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the project, including the use of efficient design and equipment technologies and the purchase of carbon offsets.

“The EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions guideline, released in 2020, requires a proposal exceeding 100,000 tonnes of scope one emissions each year to demonstrate its contribution towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050, in line with both the Paris Agreement and the IPCC’s 1.5 report,” Professor Tonts said.

“This proposal commits to delivering emissions reductions on a linear trajectory toward net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Further, the EPA noted that the batteries developed from the proposal may contribute to the more widespread use of renewable energy sources and electric vehicles, which is expected to reduce emissions compared to use of conventional energy sources and vehicles.”

Professor Tonts said the commitment to deliver emissions reductions and to revise the greenhouse gas management plan at least every five years to align with five-yearly public reporting measures had satisfied the EPA that this proposal met its greenhouse gas guidance.

“Further, the proposal is situated within an existing industrial zone, which reduces the clearing of native vegetation and terrestrial fauna habitat,” he said.

The spodumene ore to be processed at Kwinana will be sourced from the planned Mt Holland mine, about 105 kilometres south-east of Southern Cross.

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