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Covalent Lithium advances $1.9bn Mt Holland project


Covalent Lithium is progressing construction of the Mt Holland lithium project in Western Australia after receiving final approvals from the state’s environmental watchdog.

The Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority cleared the way for construction and operation of the project’s lithium hydroxide refinery in Kwinana to begin with the decision.

Covalent Lithium, a joint venture between Wesfarmers and Sociedad Quimica y Mineral de Chile S.A (SQM), is developing the Mt Holland mine, a spodumene concentrator and the lithium hydroxide refinery in Kwinana.

The company plans to produce 45,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year once construction of each element has been completed. The Mt Holland mine currently has a 40-year mine life.

According to SQM chief executive Ricardo Ramos, the site will be key in meeting demand for electric vehicles.

“We remain confident regarding the outlook for the lithium market and believe that Mt Holland is a high-quality project that will play an important role supporting increased demand for electric vehicle batteries,” Ramos said in February.

Covalent stated that the the spodumene concentrator would produce more than 340,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate per year.

Earlier this year, Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott said the development of the Mt Holland lithium project presented an attractive investment for the company’s shareholders.

“The project capitalises on our chemicals, energy and fertilisers divisions’ chemical processing expertise and Western Australia’s unique position to support growing global demand for electric vehicle battery materials which will make a crucial contribution to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

The mine is located on the unrehabilitated Bounty Gold operation, which was operated by Aztec Mining from 1988 to 2002.

Wesfarmers share price is up by $0.11 to $59.72 at the time of writing.

In 2019, Wesfarmers acquired a 50 per cent interest in the Mt Holland project after buying out Kidman Resources for $776 million.

SQM had a 50 per cent stake in Mt Holland at the time of the acquisition and has remained joint owner.

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