New Kwinana lithium refinery recommended for environmental approval

Release date: 
June 1, 2021

A proposal to construct and operate a lithium refinery at Kwinana has been recommended for environmental approval by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), subject to strict conditions relating to greenhouse gas emissions and waste management.

The proponent, Covalent Lithium Pty Ltd, proposes to process spodumene ore concentrate to produce battery grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate, primarily for use in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles at a site within the Kwinana Industrial Area.

EPA Chair Matthew Tonts said the proponent had identified several measures which would mitigate greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the project including the use of efficient design and equipment technologies and the purchase of carbon offsets.

“The EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Guideline, released in 2020, requires a proposal exceeding 100,000 tonnes of scope 1 emissions each year to demonstrate its contribution towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050, in line with both the Paris Agreement and the IPCC’s 1.5 report,” Professor Tonts said.

“This proposal commits to delivering emissions reductions on a linear trajectory toward net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Further, the EPA noted that the batteries developed from the proposal may contribute to the more widespread use of renewable energy sources and electric vehicles, which is expected to reduce emissions compared to use of conventional energy sources and vehicles.”

Professor Tonts said the commitment to deliver emissions reductions and to revise the greenhouse gas management plan at least every five years to align with five-yearly public reporting measures had satisfied the EPA that this proposal met its greenhouse gas guidance.

“Further, the proposal is situated within an existing industrial zone, which reduces the clearing of native vegetation and terrestrial fauna habitat,” he said.

The spodumene ore concentrate will be sourced from the Earl Grey Lithium Project Mt Holland Mine, located about 105 km south-east of Southern Cross in the Shire of Yilgarn.

The EPA also noted that waste disposal at the mine site would be regulated by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation under Part V of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 and by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety under the Mining Act 1978.

EPA Report 1700 Covalent Lithium Hydroxide Refinery can be found here.

EPA Media Contact: Jayne Rickard on 0400 866 450

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