The site of the new lithium processing facility in Kwinana, WA. Image: Tianqi Lithium.

By Cameron Drummond

CHINESE lithium major Tianqi Lithium has received approval for its $400 million lithium processing plant in the Perth city of Kwinana.

Subsidiary Tianqi Lithium Australia announced it had received final approval from its parent company’s board of directors to build the plant.

The company anticipated the creation of 500 jobs during construction and more than 115 full time production jobs upon its expected completion in late 2018.

The Kwinana plant would process spodumene concentrate from the Greenbushes lithium mine in WA’s South West region, producing 24,000 tonnes per annum of lithium hydroxide for use in lithium batteries.

The mine is operated by Talison Lithium, of which Tianqi holds a 51 per cent stake. New York-listed chemical company Ablemarle controls the remaining 49 per cent.

Tianqi Lithium Australia general manager Phil Thick said the Kwinana plant was well advanced in its design, engineering, procurement and approvals processes, with construction expected to begin in October.

“Tianqi’s lithium plant ticks a lot of boxes for Western Australia and is set to become a significant contributor to the State’s economy,” Mr Thick said.

“Building the plant here in WA will create construction and production jobs; it adds value to the minerals before they are exported; it encourages innovation and the production process is safe and environmentally sound,” he said.

“Importantly, the batteries ultimately produced are key components of the new energy world, which helps the environment and our planet.

“Tianqi’s plant will produce the highest quality lithium hydroxide which is required in the electric vehicle and high end energy storage markets.”