Regulators give go-ahead for lithium refinery in Western Australia

by Margaret Lau
Western Australia energy minister Bill Johnston (left) at the launch of the Perth community PowerBank in 2020. Johnston named an industry taskforce to grow the state's "critical minerals industry”. Photo: Twitter
Proposals for a lithium refinery in Western Australia have been given the green light by state regulators.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) approved the application by Covalent Lithium to build and operate the refinery at Kwinana, about 40km south of Perth, subject to strict conditions relating to greenhouse gas emissions and waste management.

Covalent said it wants to process spodumene ore concentrate to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate, primarily for use in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles at a site within the Kwinana Industrial Area.

EPA chair, Professor Matthew Tonts, said batteries developed as a result of 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”.

'Future battery strategy'

The spodumene ore concentrate will be sourced from the Earl Grey Lithium Project Mt Holland Mine, about 105km south-east of Southern Cross in the Shire of Yilgarn.

Last year, Western Australia named industry leaders to spearhead a ‘Future Battery Industry Strategy’ ministerial taskforce, as part of plans to encourage a global lithium-ion battery player to set up a manufacturing business in the state.

Earlier this year, Australia’s federal government awarded 'major project status' to plans by EcoGraf to build a battery graphite production plant in Western Australia.

The government said the Battery Anode Materials Facility project "will make a high-value contribution to the growth of our critical minerals industry, and open up opportunities for further project developments”.

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