North American chemicals producer Albemarle has said that its
Kemerton lithium hydroxide conversion plant in Western
Australia remains on target to be up and running by
Albemarle started earthworks at the project on Wednesday
January 2, soon after receiving the necessary environmental
approvals from both the federal and state governments in
The conversion plant is intended to have initial capacity
for 60,000 tonnes per year of lithium hydroxide but with a
planned expansion to 100,000 tpy later.
The commissioning of the Kemerton site is expected to begin
in stages over the course of 2021, but no specific date has
been set for the beginning of production.
Fastmarkets' most recent price assessment for contract,
battery-grade lithium hydroxide, min 56.5% LiOH.H2O, cif China,
Japan & South Korea, was $15-17 per kg on December 26.*
"The site earthworks at Kemerton today are on track with our
projections," the president of Albemarle’s lithium
business unit, Eric Norris, said on January 9.
"Achieving this milestone underscores our commitment to and
confidence in developing LiOH operations in Western Australia,
and in our overall strategy to drive significant shareholder
value and meet our customers’ demands," he
The plant will be in the Kemerton Strategic Industrial Area,
close to the Greenbushes lithium mine, with the intention of
processing the spodumene ore produced at the mine.
Albemarle owns a 49% stake in Talison Lithium, which
operates Greenbushes, the world’s largest
hard-rock lithium mine. China’s Tianqi Lithium
owns the other 51%.
The latest announcement follows a November 2018 agreement
with Australian Mineral Resources to develop a 50,000-tpy
battery-grade lithium hydroxide plant at the Wodgina lithium
mine, also in Western Australia.
And it follows Albemarle’s negotiations with
Chilean authorities to build a 42,500-tpy lithium carbonate
plant in the South American country, although
Chile’s government claimed that Albemarle lacked
essential environmental information.
*All lithium carbonate, hydroxide and spodumene prices are
available in our Battery Raw Materials Market Tracker.