Albemarle and ASX-listed partner to expedite Wodgina lithium mine restart

The world’s largest lithium producer Albemarle and its partner Mineral Resources are responding to ‘unprecedented’ demand by expediting the restart of production at their jointly owned Wodgina lithium mine in Australia.

Albemarle and ASX-listed Mineral Resources now expect first spodumene concentrate production from Train 1 operations at Wodgina, located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, in May. They had previously envisioned the start of production in Q3 of this year.

The companies also agreed to accelerate the restart of Train 2, from which first production is now expected in July. They will also assess timing to start on Train 3 and a possible construction of Train 4, with a decision to be made later this year based on global lithium market conditions.

Operations at the Wodgina mine were halted in late 2019 because of then-weak markets, but the companies have been working together to restart the project since then. Meanwhile, the lithium market has roared back over the last 18 months on the back of strong demand from the automotive sector.

Mineral Resources also announced that it will be upgrading the processing facilities at its Mt Marion hard rock lithium mine – a 50-50 joint venture with China’s Ganfeng Lithium – near Kalgoorlie. The project is expected to boost Mt Marion’s spodumene concentrate production capacity from 450,000 tonnes per annum to 600,000 tonnes per annum.