Neometals to launch lithium processing plant in WA

Thursday, 07 June, 2018

Neometals to launch lithium processing plant in WA

Neometals, a WA-based technology minerals project developer, is using its 13.8% stake in the Mt Marion lithium mine near Kalgoorlie as the backbone to its downstream product and growth strategy, and has moved ahead with plans to build a lithium hydroxide refinery in a 40-hectare site in a new industrial estate at West Kalgoorlie. The state land will be leased by the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder to help secure the development of the lithium facility.

The agreement provides Neometals with a two-year option over the site (with provision for an additional two-year extension). During this time, Neometals will undertake engineering studies as part of a border feasibility study for the refinery.

Mt Marion is the world’s third-largest lithium operation after Atacama Salar (SQM/Albemarle) and Greenbushes (Tianqi/Albemarle) and is run as a joint venture between Neometals, China’s leading lithium producer Ganfeng Lithium and Mineral Resources Limited. Mt Marion has a current mine life of approximately 20 years and its joint venture partners supply more than 20% of the world’s lithium units.

The proposed Kalgoorlie Lithium Refinery will have an initial 10,000 tpa lithium hydroxide production capacity. Lithium concentrate feed will come from Neometals’ offtake option from the Mount Marion Lithium Operations, in which the company has a 13.8% project ownership stake.

State government agencies, including the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, are working collaboratively with the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder to facilitate the development of this strategic industrial site.

Neometals CEO Chris Reed said the strategy to move Neometals downstream towards lithium chemical production is part of a broader evolution of his company’s lithium business arm.

“The aim is to develop a closed-loop lithium ecosystem with access to the lithium raw material source, value adding for use in the battery supply chain and ultimately, recycling of spent batteries,” he said.

The Western Australian Government recently committed provisional funding for the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia, to support development and manufacturing of technology metals and renewable energy sources.

Western Australia Land Minister Rita Saffioti said the development of the Kalgoorlie Lithium Hydroxide Facility will put the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia at the forefront of this growing resource industry.

“When completed, the Kalgoorlie Lithium Hydroxide Facility will produce a battery-quality lithium product suitable for use in the lithium-ion battery industry,” she said.

Battery recycling will complete the Neometals lithium vertical integration and cost reduction plans. Neometals estimates that for every tonne of lithium hydroxide recovered from EV batteries through recycling, it is possible to recover a tonne of nickel metal and one to two hundred kilograms of cobalt.

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