Covalent Lithium opens Mt Holland lithium mine and concentrator

07 March 2024
(L-R) Hon. David Michael Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Wesfarmers Managing Director Rob Scott, SQM Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Ramos, Hon. Roger Cook Premier of Western Australia, Hon. Rita Saffioti Deputy Premier; Treasurer; Minister for Transport and WesCEF Managing Director Ian Hansen

Covalent Lithium, a 50:50 joint venture partnership between Wesfarmers Limited and Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile’s (SQM), has officially recognised the successful construction and commissioning of the Mt Holland lithium mine and concentrator at an opening ceremony today that was presided over by the Hon Roger Cook MLA, Premier of Western Australia.

Commissioning represents a significant milestone for the Mt Holland lithium project, located 400 kilometres east of Perth in Western Australia, where spodumene concentrate production is now underway, and the plant is ramping up to nameplate production and on track to deliver 100,000 tonnes this financial year.

Once construction of the Covalent refinery in Kwinana is complete and commissioned, Covalent Lithium will be a fully-integrated producer and supplier of premium, battery-grade lithium hydroxide for the global electric vehicle market.

Wesfarmers Managing Director Rob Scott said the lithium joint venture was one of Wesfarmers’ key growth platforms that would deliver long-term value to shareholders, benefitting from global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“When we made our initial investment into Mt Holland four years ago, we saw an opportunity to enter the lithium market and leverage our expertise in chemical processing here in Western Australia. It’s pleasing to see the successful commissioning and ongoing ramp-up of spodumene production,” Mr Scott said.

“We are continuing to advance studies to expand the Mt Holland mine and concentrator, and the next key milestone for Covalent is completing construction of the Kwinana refinery, which remains on track for late 2024.”

SQM Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Ramos said the successful commissioning of the concentrator was one step closer to realising Covalent’s vision of enabling clean energy on a large scale.

“We are excited to see the project coming to fruition. Covalent will produce enough battery-grade lithium hydroxide to enable the manufacture of more than one million electric vehicles each year,” Mr Ramos said.

“We are confident that the high quality of the Mt Holland deposit and the joint venture’s expertise in downstream processing will position Covalent to support global decarbonisation efforts.”

Project fact summary

  • Mine life: Approximately 50 years at current production rates
  • Production capacity when fully operational:
    • Lithium ore – 2 million tonnes pa
    • Spodumene concentrate – 380,000 tonnes pa (on track to produce 100,000 tonnes by mid CY2024)
    • Battery-grade lithium hydroxide – 50,000 tonnes pa
  • Key milestones:
    • Mining commenced: February 2022
    • Concentrator construction completion: 2H CY23
    • First spodumene concentrate production: 2H CY23
    • Refinery construction completion: late CY2024
    • First Lithium Hydroxide product expected: 1HCY25