In its second-quarter earnings report, Albemarle revealed that it has put off the second phase of its Kemerton lithium processing facility in Western Australia due to a labour shortage in the region.
“To mitigate risks related to labour shortages and COVID-19 travel restrictions … the company has prioritized completion of Kemerton I [the first phase], with Kemerton II [the second phase] completion now expected by the end of the second quarter 2022,” the company said in the report.
The move in work schedule for the second stage has delayed it three months.
The miner said that both Kemerton I and II are projected to achieve commercial production next year following commissioning, to be about six months long, and a qualification period.
Albemarle commenced construction at the Kemerton Strategic Industrial Area in Western Australia in 2019 to develop the Kemerton lithium hydroxide processing plant.
Once online, the facility will process spodumene ore to produce lithium hydroxide product as well as a sodium sulfate byproduct.
“The construction of Kemerton marks the beginning of a brand-new lithium refining industry in Western Australia,” the company said previously. “The materials we intend to produce are expected to contribute to global energy storage and electric transport solutions.”
Kemerton’s initial capacity is targeting 50,000 metric tons LCE of lithium hydroxide, with an ability to expand to 100,000 metric tons LCE at prime operations.