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Albemarle to double lithium hydroxide output in Australia

| By Mary Bailey

Albemarle Corporation (Charlotte, N.C.) announced its decision to build two additional processing trains at the leading-edge Kemerton lithium hydroxide plant in Western Australia.

The additional trains will be wholly owned and operated by Albemarle and would increase the facility’s production by 50,000 metric tons per year (m.t./yr). Operating at full capacity, the Kemerton plant would produce up to 100 ktpa (100,000 metric tonnes per annum) of lithium hydroxide, supporting the manufacturing of an estimated 2.4 million electric vehicles annually.

This investment, combined with the existing two trains at Kemerton owned by Albemarle’s MARBL joint venture, represents the biggest investment by any company in downstream processing of lithium in Australia and would make Albemarle the largest producer of lithium in Australia.

“Australia is essential to the global supply chain for energy storage and an important part of our diverse portfolio,” said Albemarle CEO Kent Masters. “Our decision to expand was driven by our confidence in future demand and allows us to offer customers additional supply from Greenbushes, well known as one of the world’s best lithium mines.”

“This leverages Albemarle’s industry-leading technology and capability to design, build, and operate lithium conversion plants,” said Albemarle’s President of Energy Storage, Eric Norris. “Kemerton is a world-class facility, and we’re proud to be making another significant investment in downstream processing in Australia.”

Albemarle Country Manager Beverley East said Albemarle had created a specialised manufacturing industry in the south west of Western Australia and would continue to deliver local economic benefits including jobs and business opportunities for decades.

“Albemarle is already a significant employer in the region with more than 480 operational staff currently and about 370 more employees needed to operate the expanded project by 2026,” said Ms East. “Our construction workforce for the expansion project is predicted to be about 1,000 workers, with our preference being to recruit locally for construction and operations as much as we can.”

The expansion at Kemerton is part of Albemarle’s larger presence in Western Australia, which includes various interests and stakes in spodumene resources at Greenbushes and Wodgina.