American chemicals giant Albemarle has awarded a A$330m contract to Cimic group company UGL to double the size of its lithium hydroxide plant near Bunbury, Western Australia.
UGL will build two more production lines, or trains – trains three and four – to double the output at Albemarle’s Kemerton plant to 100,000 tonnes a year.
Lithium hydroxide is used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries. EV sales in Australia are projected to more than double in the next five years, from 36,500 in 2023 to 85,000 in 2028, according to Statistia Market Insights.
Albemarle said the expansion would cement its status as Australia’s biggest lithium producer.
It said the project will create around 1,000 construction jobs and has launched what it called an intensive, three-month recruitment drive.
Cimic executive chairman Juan Santamaria said: “We are proud to grow our presence in Western Australia and to play a part in expanding high tech infrastructure and lithium refining in Australia, by contributing to the construction of one of the world’s largest lithium production facilities.”