estern Australia’s government said the state’s eastern goldfields will be put at the forefront of the lithium processing industry with Neometals Ltd.’s signing of an option agreement with the city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder for a proposed 10,000-tonne-per-year lithium hydroxide plant.
The agreement gives Neometals a two-year option over the site, with provision for an additional two-year extension. The company launched the front-end engineering and design study for its proposed Kalgoorlie lithium hydroxide project, which is due to be completed by the end of 2018 ahead of an investment decision in the first quarter of 2019.
The site will be leased to Kalgoorlie-Boulder for 21 years with an option for a further 21 years after the first term of the lease.
State government agencies including the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage are working collaboratively with Kalgoorlie-Boulder to facilitate starting development of the strategic industrial site “in the short term.”
Neometals CEO Chris Reed said the Kalgoorlie location for the proposed plant, which will receive feed from his company’s Mount Marion lithium operations, “made sense” as part of its aim to develop a “closed loop lithium ecosystem” with access to the raw material source and was “value-adding for use in the battery supply chain and ultimately, recycling of spent batteries.”
He said the location also provided a cost advantage due to the removal of shipping, taxes and transport, the latter of which was particularly “critical” for end users, who must account for the full life cycle of the materials they consume.
Kalgoorlie’s land availability, leasing rates, access to power, water and gas, and a willing local workforce were also compelling attractions.
Lands Minister Rita Saffioti said in a June 6 statement that the land’s activation would be a jobs boost for the eastern goldfields, which would be put “at the forefront of this growing resource industry.”
“The mining and processing of tech metals will provide a new Golden Age for this region — and indeed for Western Australia,” Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said. “It is great to see state and local governments coming together to drive these opportunities for 21st-century industry.”
The news comes just weeks after WA Lithium, a joint venture between Kidman Resources Ltd. and Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA, signed an exclusive option for a 76-hectare site at the Kwinana Strategic Industrial Area with government-owned LandCorp to build a processing plant there.
The state government recently committed A$5 million in provisional funding for the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia to support developing and manufacturing technology metals and renewable energy sources if the federal government chooses Western Australia as the location for a proposed Collaborative Research Center.