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Huge lithium investment to boost WA economy

  • Posted on Monday 7th, January 2019.

Earthworks will now commence on a lithium processing plant in Western Australia (WA) that will create hundreds of extra jobs and provide benefits to thousands of local businesses, according to Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham.

He said the proposed lithium processing plant at Kemerton by US Company Albemarle would be a major win for WA and for the country’s lithium industry.

“A project of this scale is a major boost for WA’s economy with over 800 jobs expected to be created and significant flow-on effects for local businesses,” said Birmingham.

“We know there is growing demand for lithium around the world and also locally, particularly in areas such as energy storage and this presents huge future opportunities for Australia’s lithium industry.

“We’re the world’s largest lithium producer and there is significant potential to grow investment in infrastructure at various stages within the value chain such as lithium processing.

“This is a welcome investment and vote of confidence in our local lithium industry that will help attract further investment into the future,” he said.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matthew Canavan, said the Government was focused on supporting development of the lithium sector.

“Our Resources 2030 Taskforce report highlights the importance of developing new strategies to develop competitive downstream industries, including value-adding for prospective battery and critical-minerals industries,” said Canavan.

“It is a roadmap for how we can put Australia in the best position to make the most of investments in the lithium supply chain and today’s announcement is another step on that journey.

“This is a huge opportunity for us. With the right policies we can advance our industry further up the value chain to become the world’s leading supplier of high grade lithium components — creating new jobs and opportunities for Australians.”

Senator for WA, Linda Reynolds, said the renewable energy storage industry offers the most exciting new resources opportunity for WA in over 50 years, with WA producing 62 per cent of the world’s lithium.

“In August I hosted a lithium and new energy industry delegation to Canberra where delegates briefed Federal Government Ministers and representatives from the European Union and US Embassy on why WA is the best place for Australia’s ‘Lithium Valley’.

“The Federal Government has embraced the opportunity lithium provides for our economy and I welcome the construction of the Kemerton processing plant in WA.”

Member for Forrest, Nola Marino, said the project would provide a significant economic boost to both people and businesses in the South West.

“It’s a great thing for my South West region, particularly in the jobs space,” she said.

“Albemarle will have access to a skilled workforce in my South West region and also have training options through South Regional TAFE.

“We’re going to see a greater development of opportunities and secondary processing opportunities from this industry particularly in my electorate of Forrest.”

Australia has now attracted investment from two of the world’s largest lithium producers — Chinese company, Tianqi, and now US Company, Albemarle, which are both investing in downstream lithium processing in WA. There are also three other processing plants in the development phase in WA.

This investment comes also after the release of a new strategy by the Liberal-National Government to help maximise Australia’s potential as a world powerhouse in lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

The Commonwealth Department of Environment has now provided the relevant approvals for the project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

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